Monday 11 January 2021

Don't Lose Sight of the True Goal

 There is a danger that people at the moment may define spirituality in terms of resistance to what is going on in the world. More or less all of what is going on is clearly inspired by what we may call, somewhat melodramatically perhaps but accurately, the dark powers. Of that there is no doubt. Aided and abetted by their countless foot soldiers, who, incidentally, will be eaten up and swallowed when they've served their purpose, evil is all around us at the moment, setting the agenda and smearing and crushing all opposition. 

However, resistance to it can lead one into ego-centred, anti-spiritual behaviour if you allow yourself to be diverted from a proper focus on God and the spiritual path into the attempt to engage in some kind of counter-revolution on the worldly plane. Then  you become caught up in a spiral of action and reaction, all of which is determined by the devil who is only to happy if you fight him on his own battleground using the weapons he has chosen. 

In that case you are externalising the spiritual battle which really should be taking place on the level of your own soul. This doesn't mean you let evil get its way. You must stand against it but if you fight fire with fire you just create a big conflagration. There are two things you should do. First of all, try to clear your own heart as much as possible of anger and hatred. This is hard when faced with obvious evil but it must be done. At least, you must try to objectify the anger and hatred, experience it but not let it sway your mind or dominate your emotions. Keep it at a distance without getting enmeshed in it. 

Then you do as Jesus did which was not to fight evil directly on its own level but demonstrate good. Don't be drawn into evil by evil. That's what it wants because then it's got you. This must be why Jesus said "Resist not evil" which is an often misunderstood instruction. It doesn't mean you should ignore evil but that you should not let it into your heart even when you are confronting it. But you should confront it as Jesus did when he overthrew the moneylenders' tables at the temple. That demonstrates that there's no one size fits all approach to this matter. Different situations demand different responses.

What happens in the world is important but only to the extent that it reflects what happens in the hearts of individuals. You have been given one major task in this life. That is to perfect your own soul or, if perfect is too strong a word, to direct it Godwards at all times and in all circumstances. Don't be distracted from that task by outrage at what is taking place in the world. Do what you can when you can but always keep your eyes on the true goal which is the salvation of your own soul. The battle is primarily spiritual.

Jesus did not come to make this world into heaven. He came to show us the way to heaven. We should certainly try to make this world as good as it can be, if for no other reason than to make it somewhere conducive to the spiritual path, but we should not make the mistake of focusing all our energies on life in this world even in times as dark as these.


Crosbie said...

This is a very timely post, at least for me. This morning I had the sense I must resist. But what does that mean? Wear a pink hat? Chant slogans in the street - or worse? Surely not. I see I am supposed to resist temptation - in my case, the temptation to resentment. We must be like Sir Thomas More. We must not betray the truth but nor must we betray those we depend upon, those who have shown us mercy in the past.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - While you are not wrong - the general tone is somewhat 'paralysing' - as if we ought not take a step until we are purified (which we never will be). How could we ever be sure *enough* about our own motives, to be able to make a choice, take and action?

I prefer to take a lead from Arkle and treat these matters in a more lighthearted way, accepting - indeed *expecting* - that we will make mistakes and have wrong motivations, and being ready and willing to repent our errors and sins.

But not feeling crushed about this - rather, regarding life as an adventure; and the experiences of value so long as we learn from them.

In the end we are en route to death, but once we have decided upon salvation, the main focus becomes a matter of learning from the experiences that life sends our way (only secondarily from experiences that we seek out).

A comment of Arkle's stuck in my mind - to the effect that God does not want us to be thinking about him all the time or seeking his advice; but instead living as He wants us to live - trying to work things out for ourselves, as a first line.

That seems to be the way things are set-up.

William Wildblood said...

Sir Thomas More is a very good analogy, Crosbie, though I hope the end result won't be the same.

Bruce, I wrote this because I feel many people might be distracted at the present time from what really matters. It's easy to be dragged down into worldly preoccupations. Obviously one shouldn't ignore them but, at the same time, they are not the main thing. That's my view anyway.

Andrew said...

There was a lot of hope put into the US elections. This was seen as a hopeful sign of God's providential hand aiding us by some, by others falsely in only material terms.

We don't know that God's plan is man's plan though. Certainly many were very upset to see the Lord crucified when they hoped for a worldly savior a King, another David.

William Wildblood said...

I think we can safely say that God's plan is not man's plan. God's hope surely is for people to repent and turn to him and that may only be for many when their world comes crashing down. I deeply regret the way America seems to be going but we know that "whom God loves, he chastens". There's encouragement in that.