Wednesday 22 November 2017

What is a spiritual person?

If you were a spiritual person you wouldn't criticise or judge anyone. You would love everyone at all times. You would be tolerant and accepting of differences. For spirituality must not give way to judgment or discrimination. Love is all and must be offered equally to everyone regardless. This is what one is sometimes told.

But is it really so? Look at the prophets and at Jesus himself. They condemned the falsehood of this world. They knew that a spiritual person had to set himself against this world and the (false) values of the world. They said loud and clear that there was a better and a worse, a right and a wrong, truth and lies. They did not pretend all was well for the sake of being friendly and kind when it was clear that evil prevailed. They made a choice and took a stand and so must we.  The so-called spiritual person who goes along with the world for fear of being thought unloving is a dupe and spiritually feeble. This world and God's truth are always at odds.  You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and this world.

So yes, a spiritual person must love and yes, a spiritual person should certainly accept, and even rejoice in, the broad panoply of human differences as all part and parcel of God’s creation and all worthwhile in their own way. But more than this he must love God which means love truth and not accept that which is counter to God or truth. He should recognise the reality of a hierarchical structure to the universe and therefore see that there is better and worse, and he should also see that this is a fallen world in which we are in the midst of a spiritual war. You don't win a war by refusing to fight your enemy. Turn the other cheek does not mean capitulate to evil. It means don't react in your heart with hatred towards your enemy but at the same time don't pretend that wrong is right for if you do then wrong will surely triumph.

A spiritual person has to balance truth and love in his or her heart. Sometimes one must be to the fore and sometimes another. It all depends on circumstances and the need of the moment. There is no outer response which is right at all times regardless. Jesus preached to the masses and was silent before Pilate. He forgave sinners but overturned the money changers' tables at the Temple. He responded according to the situation and each situation was different but because his will was entirely ordered towards God he had no need to think about what he was doing and no need to subject his behaviour to any kind of rule or censorship. For him spontaneity was truth. He could act with love when that was required and from the perspective of unbending truth when that was. That is a spiritual person.


Bruce Charlton said...


ted said...

Very good read! The issue today is that so many progressives believe they are on the right and just side of history, and therefore take their values for being more moral than those old, outdated modes of thought. It's an inversion, but not seen that way for those that hold that worldview.

William Wildblood said...

thanks Bruce and ted. It is an inversion but that is all part of the test of today, whether you take your morality from the primary reality of God or Man.

Anonymous said...

The most difficult thing to do is to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Even with people I love, if they do something sinful, I feel very judgmental, not just for the sin they did, but judgmental of them as people. This passes, and love asserts itself, along with guilt that love slipped when they sinned. With people I don't know, the judgement has lasted, and I have tended to dislike, hate, or despise, and that is even though I know that I don't know them well. I don't know the good and evil they have done. It is this aspect of judgement that I find suspect. It is so commonly done by most people that when I judge another nowadays, I try to remember that I am seeing one sin in time, and that there was time before, and time to come, when I was not, and will not be with the person. That person may well lead an otherwise saintly life, or may be bad now, but a conversion may occur, and repentance may be felt and forgiveness asked for.

To rebuke with love is very hard work. The very best priests know how to do it, but I think that the rest of us muddle on making mistake after mistake in our judging, which results in more pain and anger, and more sin.

I wish I could get it right.

Anonymous said...

See above.

Chesterton's Father Brown is the ideal priest. His repeated rebuking of Flambeau does not diminish the pity and love he feels for the arch-criminal. He persists with his attempt to gain Flambeau for God, and eventually he succeeds. Despite Flambeau's dreadful sins, Father Brown never forgets the distinction to be made between sinner and sin. He judges the sins rightly, but recognises that Flambeau also contains the divine spark, and is loved by God. Who is he to give up on Flambeau when God doesn't?

We should all be like Father Brown.

Anonymous said...

This article gets to what I feel that I have done - taken delight in pointing out sin in others. When I catch myself doing it, I am filled with self loathing.

William Wildblood said...

Self-loathing is not really the way though I can understand the reaction. Better just to acknowledge the fault, pray for forgiveness and resolve to do better the next time.