Being a typical man (that’s not a bad thing!) I always assume I don’t need to read the directions! After all, I’m educated. I’m capable. I know what’s going on, right? Uh, yeah, right.
So, with that confidence (perhaps overconfidence) I launched into putting together the table we just purchased from the Do It Yourself store. It said “Do It Yourself” after all. Several hours later and frayed nerves to the point of snapping, I decided that I’d look at the directions after all. What a humbling experience!
But in a modern society where it seems everything has an “easy” answer, an easy explanation, and a convenient path, we do fall into the trap that everything should be easy. And that, my angel, is a dangerous mindset. To be sure, modern life has made many chores of the past easier, and that has had wonderful results for we humans. Modernity isn’t all bad as some would have us believe. But neither is modernity all good. Especially when it comes to the timeless struggle for spiritual maturity. This task, which is the task of each of us without exception, defies the “easy” answers of the spiritual “gurus” of our modern age.
These “gurus” want us to believe that spiritual maturity is “easy.” All we have to do is succumb to their exclusive tutelage. And even if their path seems difficult, as long as we are listening only to them we will “progress.” These “wolves in sheeps clothing” long to capture us and make us their own. But spiritual maturity, like all the timeless struggles common to all men, require us to avoid the “easy” answers of our so-called “modern” world.
Look at our Gospel Lesson today. Our Lord Jesus confronts us all with the challenging words of His Gospel in insisting that our words match our actions. Read Luke 6:46-49, 7:1.
The Lord said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Capernaum.
A solid foundation of spiritual growth and maturity always begins with a singular commitment to Jesus Christ. If He is Lord then He IS Lord. This simple, yet not easy, foundation means my spiritual life is contingent always on my focus on Him. And the consequences of this singular focus have several practical outcomes that refuse an “easy” solution. This singular focus means I must regularly inventory my own motivation. This singular focus means I must always remember that my spiritual life isn’t a life of isolation. This singular focus means I must stay awake to the multitude of distractions always calling me to sidetrack my spiritual progress. In other words, I have to have the Church, because I cannot and will not do this by myself!
Today, is the foundation of your spiritual life strong? What is your life built upon? Are you trying to do this work by yourself? Perhaps it’s time to admit this isn’t an easy undertaking and learn to lovingly give yourself to the arms of the Church Whose primary task is to continue the Physical Presence of Jesus in the World and call us to the hard, but eternally rewarding, path of spiritual maturity. Only then will we be able to avoid being captured by “easy.”
P.S. I do hope you are planning to listen Sunday night to Faith Encouraged LIVE on AncientFaith.com. We will be talking together about just why icons are an essential element of our spiritual maturity, and how icons invite me to serious and exclusive focus on Jesus Christ! That’s Sunday at 8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific. Please share this with your friends!