One of the hardest elements of the spiritual life to accept is the now-shifted concept of “success.”
For many, we grasp at “success”, yearning to hear of simple steps and simple measures. We want the list, so to speak, and we seek assurance around the proven results we hope will be ours at the end of the prescribed journey.
Lots of compassion for that approach; the simplicity is tempting. And a warning. Over-emphasized, it may well lead to a certain rigidity.
Faith is far from a prescribed, rigid journey. Faith often does not yield to simple steps or simple measures. Some will find God when addiction has robbed them of friends, family, and health. Some will find God witnessing the birth of their first child. Some will find God on seeing “Les Mis.” Some will find God reading Revelation in all its varied forms. Some will find God in a Sunday service. Some may even find God on the golf course ☺. Each of the above held as different, blessed steps on the same journey, with many of us answering “all the above.”
When faith becomes rigid however, it hardens. No longer open to many paths but instead critically biased towards one path and one path only, faith becomes judgmental. It gains a calcified, smug self-assuredness that freezes both others and God out.
Imagine this though – with a smile. What if that is why so often, in Christian New Church circles, the call is to faith, but not just faith. Instead, the call is to Faith AND Goodwill. Two hands. Each necessary. Needed. Celebrating and supporting the other.
What we need is a resilient faith, growing from goodwill, not a rigid faith alone growing solely from order.
“Resilient” is a much better definition of “Success” when it comes to our souls.