SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

FALSE NOTIONS OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS

François Fénelon saw some people in his church who had not grown an inch since their conversion and baptism. Almost all who aimed at serving God did so more or less for their sake. They always want to win, not to lose. They desire to be comforted, not to suffer. Furthermore, they crave to possess, not to be deprived. They yearn to increase, not to diminish. Yet, for dedicated Christians, their whole interior progress consists of losing, sacrificing, decreasing, humbling, and not using some of their talents as a way to impress God that they want to closer to Him. We are often like patients who take their pulse fifty times a day and want the doctor to be perpetually ordering some new medication or telling them how much better they are.

Some people treat their spiritual director or pastor in this way. They move round and round in a tiny circle of easy virtues, never stepping beyond it heartily and generously. Yet, at the same time, they expect the director (like the physician) to soothe, comfort, encourage, and foster perfectionism, only ordering minor sedative treatments that drop into mere habit and routine.  However, as soon as they start doubting the assurance of salvation, they want something to comfort them, as milk does to a baby. Such people imagine that all is lost. It means they worry more about how they were called than why they were chosen. In other words, they are more concerned about the means than the end. It all has to do with being centered on themselves.

Facing hardships is the food of solid minds: They invigorate the soul, take it out of its comfort zone, and offer it as a living sacrifice to God.[1] But weak people are in despair at the first sign of adversity. They are under the illusion that all their purely good works are being thrown overboard just when they were becoming used to them. They are willing to let God do whatever He pleases with them, as long as it provides something fantastic and beneficial. But they have no conception of being humbled and crushed or offered as a sacrifice to be consumed by the divine flames. They seek to live by pure faith yet want to retain all their childish worldly wisdom that makes them look great in their eyes. But what a spiritual Mirage this is!

Written over 450 years ago

Vocabulary redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda


[1] Romans 12:1

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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