Monday 5 October 2020

In what ways can Christians expect spiritual progress, in what ways do things 'stay the same' (just as bad)

The way that some people describe the Christian life, it seems futile... What is (apparently) being offered is a life of hard work, self-absorbed struggle, yet inevitable failure to make progress: for example when the great Saints declare they are also the greatest sinners. It seems like being a Christian is the best way to waste your life, a matter of embracing inevitable (and miserable) failure...

On the other side; there is the kind of smug, worldly complacency of self-identified Christians whose faith has made no discernable difference to our estimate of them. They seem no better as people than non-Christians (or than themselves before they were Christians); just, maybe, cannier at justifying whatever they happen to do by using Christian language and logic. 

Such people let themselves off-the-hook alogether too easily. And their faith seems like a a mere 'form of words'; just a different kind of waste of time to no-faith-at-all: because why become and remain a Christian if it makes no discernible, progressive improvement in a person's actual nature?

But if our continued mortal life on earth is properly understood, it is seen as mainly a matter of learning: learning in preparation for our resurrected life in Heaven. 


Repentance is a word for this learning, because repentance should be understood as learning the proper perspective in-which to understand some-thing. When we repent a sin, this is knowing that it was and is a sin. 

But repentance is also positive and creative; because whenever we 'notice' an instance of life as God's living creation, whenever we feel the presence of the Holy Ghost, or remember with gratitude and joy Jesus's gift of resurrected life - we are-repenting, we are seeing truly; and we have-learned something...

We have-learned some-thing different and new - because life never repeats, and each instance of learning is never exactly the same as any that went before. And all such learning-events are worthwhile. 


This learning in our mortal life is real and robust and each new thing learned is progress.

But on the other hand, the learning never stops: we never run-out-of things to learn: we never get anywhere near to learning everything that would benefit us...

As long as we are alive, in this God-created world - child of a God who loves us personally, and who placed us here with our consent; and who spins-out creation to make the best kind of learning situations we personally most need - so long as we live mortally, we are able to learn. And also there is always something more to learn. 


In this sense the Christian life is cumulative because we we have-learned; but there is always more to-learn - more we need to learn and would benefit from learning. 

So, in one way we have-improved by being Christian - albiet that real learning has been spiritual and not material; designed for eternity not mortal life; and the learning is everlasting and not susceptible to the changes and corruptions of human memory or understanding. 

But in another way we never get anywhere further in life! Because we are always starting-again from the same place. Of all that we might learn, we have so-far learned only an infinitesimally small, insignificant, proportion... 

We have learning in-the-bank; but compared to what we can (and ideally should) learn; we are always "at square one".  


I would not want life to be something finite; where I might run-out-of important things to do. On the other hand, I don't want my life to be a treadmill: the hard work should be taking me somewhere. 

This actual mortal life (mine and yours) seems to be perfectly designed to achieve what God wants; and therefore it is also perfectly designed for what Christians who align with God's purposes also want. 

But to appreciate this, the nature and purpose of mortal life must be understood; and one must be a Christian.


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