Thursday, 11 August 2022

A Testing Time

It's clear that we are in the middle of a serious spiritual examination. We will increasingly be given options and we will have to decide which side to align ourselves with. It will be a question of appearance and reality, with the good choice often seeming to the untutored eye to be the wrong choice, even the bad choice. And vice versa. This will work on the simple worldly/spiritual level but then it will become more refined. As you get through one fork in the road you will be faced with another. What sort of spiritual path do you choose? Why do you choose the one you choose? Your motive will be examined. Is it love of God, love of truth, or is it the wish to receive something, some spiritual possession, talent or power? Are you prepared to tread this path alone or with minimal support? You had better be prepared for that because it is what will be asked of you. In the later stages certainly but even at the beginning to an extent.

The point of the testing is twofold. Firstly, to see how the heart inclines and then to see how you are able to express that inclination. It's no good opting for God and then doing nothing much about it. I don't mean we should all go out preaching but our beliefs should translate into how we live our lives, whether that be on a large or, more usually, a small scale. It's the old demand for both faith and works, the inner connection must follow through to outer action even if that just means, as it will in most cases, living your normal daily life in the light of the reality of God rather than that of the world. Sometimes this may mean looking foolish in the eyes of the world. Sometimes it may even mean looking wicked.

As we do this we will be tested again. We believe in God, we live our lives according to the word of God and in the light of his truth. Most people don't do that and even some that think they do don't really. We see this. How do we react? With pride that we are the elect? That is very tempting even when we are intellectually aware of the trap. The only thing that will save us from this pride, which I must say is a perfectly normal and natural human reaction, is sincere love of God. That and watchfulness. And prayer. That's three things! The worm of pride lurks in every human soul. You can't escape it but you can be aware of it and being so aware will bring it out into the light where it can more easily be dealt with. But, as I say, the only thing that will really deal with it is raising your whole mental focus and attention up to God where it will shrivel and die. Obviously, I speak as someone still engaged in this process and certainly not as someone who has achieved it.

In the past salvation could be a collective thing. You belonged to a church or religion, you believed and you behaved according to that religion. Those days are past. This is another test. The spiritual path is much more of an individual thing now. In many way it always was as it must be since an individual is what we fundamentally are. However, that aspect was less emphasised. Now it is right up at the forefront of the spiritual endeavour. You cannot just join a collective, a church or religion, and hope to be taken along with it. You must forge your own path, make your own connection to God. Again, this was always the case to a degree but now it is paramount.

Look at what is to come as an opportunity. It's a chance to clear out the worldly trash and get our spiritual house in order. If our priorities are right this won't be too much of a challenge, and if they aren't it will help make them so!


Bruce Charlton said...

"Look at what is to come as an opportunity. "

Yes, it is certainly for our own benefit - our Eternal benefit.

I think of this time of testing as being just what is needed for the people who are alive now - and presumably different things were needed for those incarnated in earlier eras.

This is consistent with the obvious fact that the preceding decades of unprecedented peace, prosperity, comfort, convenience in The West was a great *opportunity* to live a more spiritual then ever before - things were made as easy as possible.

But, as time passed, that chance of easy learning without physical hardship was more-and-more often rejected; instead most people became less spiritual, less truthful, less concerned with ultimates and the eternal; more-and-more materialistic, dishonest, hedonistic and short-termist.

It is now time for God's tough love and stark (black and white) choices; as appropriate for the 'hard cases' that most people have chosen to become.

Unknown said...

It is indeed a great opportunity!

The spiritual life, like all precious things, requires sacrifice - in this case, sacrifice of worldly things, wealth, power, comfort, security.

We have been neglecting this task. God, in his infinite mercy, is arranging things so that we can no longer run from this task.

Many men are terrified of losing wealth, honor, power, and security - yet when by some chance they encounter these things, they realize it is a great gift.

Many spiritual masters have described poverty as "joyful". But for many men and women, it takes a "misfortune" to realize this.

Another essential aspect of life in God I want to point to - inner joy! Worldly men are dour, gloomy, and anxious, as a rule. It's remarkable how unhappy worldy men, with their comfort, security, power, and wealth, are almost uniformly.

Yet truly spiritual men who live in God are invariably full of joy - smiling and free from anxiety about physical things. That is how you recognize them.

As our times become worse and worse, and the "world" becomes more gloomy and anxious, I feel it's important for men of God to manifest the joy that comes from giving up attachment to the "world" -(this does not mean spurning beauty or nature or the body etc. Quite the opposite. )