Spiritual Progress Is Following Christ

We typically think of progress as the accrual of knowledge, skill, assets, or perhaps being a better person, but spiritual progress is totally different. Spiritual progress involves dropping earth-weights, those things that the world smiles upon, but are baggage that impede our journey upward. It is not about trying to improve ourselves, as such, but rather it is about relinquishing “pride of life” and being more able to discern our spiritual nature, to get out of God’s way, exemplified by Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemani: “ O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.“

St. Paul puts it this way: “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The popular Christian promise of praying sincerely to get what you want is a terrible perversion for it would make God the servant of man! The one who practices this successfully is in danger of building a chasm between himself and the divine, thinking he is something when he is nothing, for it is certainly not God who bestows success in the world at the cost of one’s soul, one’s ability to “be absent from the body and be present with the Lord.” (St. Paul)

Spiritual progress is concomitant to following Christ, a perpetual demand that has nothing to do with dying out of the flesh:
“Progress is born of experience. It is the ripening of mortal man, through which the mortal is dropped for the immortal... Nothing sensual or sinful is immortal. The death of a false material sense and of sin, not the death of organic matter, is what reveals man and Life, harmonious, real, and eternal.” S&H