Get off the Assembly Line and into the Wilderness
It’s a challenge of Christian spirituality to desire the intangible over the physical. Longing for an invisible Christ is hard to even wrap our minds around, especially when we compare it to more obvious concerns. This is even more difficult in our post-enlightenment culture that is suspect of anything that’s not concrete.
Rather than learning to embrace the mysteries of Christian spirituality, we resort to a faith that’s either mimicked or prescribed. To copy someone else’s behavior or submit to their direction, for Christ’s sake, has some sense of observable reality to it.
So instead of being molded into the ideal versions of ourselves, we’re programmed into little christbots. We attempt to manifest the fruits of the spirit in the same ways. We emphasize the same dogmatisms. We share the same opinions about complex political and religious ideas. We speak the same language full of strange symbols and colloquialisms. Spirituality is reduced to assembly line reproduction and called discipleship.
“Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”―Søren Kierkegaard
As we look at those around us to gauge our progress, there’s a frustration in cramming ourselves into a mold that doesn’t fit. It’s exhausting and demoralizing. And there’s a constant feeling that, as your life begins to mirror mine, you’re disappearing.
We’re running full speed on a treadmill and aspiring toward:
The strengths of others
The virtues of others
The behavior of others
The practices of others
The beliefs of others
I don’t think we do it intentionally. In our sincere desire to manifest maturity in the lives of others, we look for a standard.
“Let us be what God likes, so long as we are His, and let us not be what we want to be, if it is against his intention.”—Francis de Sales
We eventually churn out people with the appearance of godliness and no spiritual spark and power. And, quite honestly, we shun people who might truly be closer to Christ because they don’t fit the archetype.
Christ wants you, not your version of someone else’s spiritual life—you. This truth is both freeing and frightening. There’s freedom in not being in not constantly measuring ourselves by standards that don’t fit us, but it’s scary because this casts us into the unknown wilderness of working out our own salvation.
Plunge yourself into that mystery. There’s nothing else that will truly release you to be who you are. Don’t chase virtues for virtue’s sake, knowledge for knowledge’s sake, or disciplines for the sake of practicing disciplines. Pursue only Christ. Pursue him in the Scriptures and in your prayer. Invite him into your daily activities and conversations.
When he is your only goal, he’ll lay upon you virtues that fit perfectly.
So stop wishing. Stop comparing. Stop straining. Be you. . . just be the best damn version of you that you can be. Let him worry about the rest.