by John Jacob, Kuwait
"Success has many fathers; failure has none"....so goes the saying in the secular world. However, in the spiritual world, there is a slight change. Here it can be read as "Success has many fathers, failure has at least one, GOD THE FATHER!" For, many a times what is termed as successful in this world could be a failure in the sight of the Lord, while what is seen as failure by the world could actually be a success before God.
Take for example the person of whom Christ said, "Among those born of women, there is none greater than him" – John the Baptist. He preached about Christ saying "He must increase, I must decrease" at one point of time. He went about (`boastfully', isn't it?) presenting the truth even before Herod the King himself. He ended up being a big failure in the eyes of this world since the situation ended up with his head being chopped off, nothing less! And yet it was about such a 'failure' that Christ had such commendable words to speak about.
So what is the other lesson for us from the above two paragraphs? Truth is not desperate to have `Pramaanis' and leaders of any kind siding with it. It has its own independent and divine existence. It sides with a boy in David (vis-ŕ-vis Goliath) as much as it does with a father in Abraham. And ignoring this fact is equivalent to ignoring Christ Himself! Further, the triumph of Truth is certain and, being eternal, could take place even beyond a mortal man's lifespan. (Yet, thankfully for mankind, to compensate for the truth that 'None is Good, except the Lord', the Love and Grace of God becomes sufficient).
The question then remains - what is success according to this world? This world believes in, say, the likes of Abraham Lincoln & Mahatma Gandhi to be successful individuals. But in the spiritual world, everyone including the "least of these my brethren" who aligns himself to Christ & His Ways, are termed as successful individuals (and worthy of Eternal Life) – including the 11th hour arrivals! Little wonder then, that the robber on the right-side of Christ – is considered by the Church as a successful person!
Spirituality is not a test of strength or endurance - it is more a humbling of self and a divining of character. And the divining of character is the same as making 'fertile the soil in one's heart'. And, the primary ingredient for spiritual fertility? - Love, of course!
And, by the way, it is thus pertinent to note here that Christ taught mankind not just through parables & miracles; but also through the way He dealt with different situations that came up before Him. Thus He dealt with Nicodemos in a way that was befitting for him, while He dealt with the event related to the sinful prostitute in a way that was befitting for that situation. In other words, spiritual values were applied to real life situations and corrections were suggested by HIM. Contrast it with this world in which mankind goes about living out his daily routine on the one side, while spiritual teachings and values are left dangling in another corner. And whenever the two are sought to be linked together, quite often there comes a strong resistance to change.
Despite the above, how has the disciples & the early Christians coped with such challenges? Well, life definitely put them in many locations & situations that they might have never imagined before; but it was God The Father who was always with them. And by virtue of many an outwardly factor going against them, there may have been many reasons to be sorrowful too; but internally, the moment they connected with their Almighty Father, a divine peace & joy must have engulfed them - a peace that surpassed all human understanding. The same peace that Christ spoke of "My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you."
To sum up thus, the truth about spiritual success is – it finds itself to be more in sync with the ways of the ascetics & desert fathers of the Church (who were busy working away at cleansing the 'inside of their respective cups than the outside'). Although painful, let us support / sharpen one another to continue along this direction! After all, the rewards are eternal in nature; isn't it?
Are You a Fool? Part 1: Fools and Their Disobedience
The Bible has much to say about fools and without hesitation it presents the foolish in a negative light. Why study fools? If the Bible frowns on the foolish, then it would behoove man to learn about fools so that they can avoid being one.
Orthodox Spirituality presents the process of a Christian’s progress on the road to perfection in Christ, by the cleansing of passions and the winning of the virtues, a process which takes place in a certain order. Spirituality describes the manner in which the Christians can go forward from the cleansing of one passion, to the cleansing of another, and the same to the acquiring of the different virtues.
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