There are many discussions going on about how to get Christians to go deeper in their faith. Here are my two cents.
First, we must realize that there are many reasons that Christians call themselves Christians. There are those who do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. There are those who are afraid of hell, and are Christians because they want to go to heaven. Finally, some have had an encounter with Truth, and this encounter has led them to professing Jesus as Lord and Savior. In my humble opinion, we are likely compelled to be Christians for more than one reason, and some of those reasons may not be listed here.
Why do I point this out? Because when we start to analyze why we don’t go further in our faith, we realize that these drivers can sabotage our progress. We cannot live in the peace and love of God if our journey is tainted with a fear of hell. We cannot live in a proper humble attitude towards God if we are proud of doing the right thing. While encounters with God that prompt us towards the Christian life are the proper drivers, the experiences in and of themselves can become a source of pride.
The second springboard for going deeper in faith goes back to the point that deep faith comes from an encounter with God, which is an encounter with love. However, encounters with God often lead to one of two extremes. The first extreme is an encounter with God as a punitive father. The second is and encounter with an unconditionally loving father, which leads us to accept ourselves where we are. This is ok if it does not build complacency that resists becoming even better. I believe that the perfect spiritual journey places these two extremes in tension with one another. It lives with an awareness of sin and unworthiness and the joy of unconditional love. At the same time, it seeks to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that one can be stripped of selfishness in order to be fully united with the unconditional lover.
If the idea of being one with God, one with love, does not create joy in the depth of our heart, then I don’t know what will. At the same time, there is something within us that resists seeing the depths of our sinful nature. It seems to go against everything within us. However, Catherine of Siena tells us that self-awareness comes before love. We can understand this better if we look at some of the other metaphors for describing God. God is light, and if we hide the depths of our sinful nature in darkness, then how can one be one with light? If we are lying to ourselves about the depth of our sinful nature, how can we be one with Truth?
Based on the above, I suggest that the goal of the spiritual journey is leveraging the joy of unconditional love with the help of the Holy Spirit in order to overcome all that keeps us from becoming one with God. The first step of the journey requires one to have an encounter with love. While there are many ways to encounter God’s love, the most important one is through silent prayer. It is in silent prayer that the Holy Spirit perfects us. It is through sitting in silence that we humbly submit to the Holy Spirit and empower him to do his work.
What is silent prayer? It is a process of sitting in awareness of God’s presence within us and his love for us. When people persist in this process, they find themselves experiencing immense joy. Yes, there is great joy found in adoring him.
Spend time with the Holy Spirit pondering his presence within you. Ask him make you aware of his presence. Ask him to kindle a fire of desire to be transformed in a manner that you may be one with the Trinity. Ask him for an encounter with his love, an encounter that will likely make you confront the truth of your unworthiness. Ask him to help you find the balance between the negative feelings that arise from self-awareness and the truth of his love for us. Ask him to reveal to you the way of perfection. Ask him to make you one with himself. Then, spend some time just being in his presence. As you wrap up your time of prayer, I encourage you to take some notes about your experience, and to set forth any action items that might help you on the way.