On the Kingdom Road
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
In his book The Road Less Traveled (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), M. Scott Peck says: “We all have a sick self and a healthy self…There is that part of us that wants to grow, that likes the change and development, that is attracted to the new and the unknown, and that is willing to do the work and take the risks involved in spiritual evolution…and there is that part of us that does not want to exert ourselves, that clings to the old and the familiar, fearful of any change or effort, desiring comfort at any cost and absence of pain at any price. Within each and every one of us there are these two selves, one sick and one healthy—the life urge and the death urge, if you will.”
These two selves are at constant war within us, each seeking to get the upper hand. St. Paul understood this clearly. Even after his conversion to Christianity, he struggled to empty himself and surrender to God: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (Romans 7:21) Ultimately, he understood that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) That is it. If we neglect this critical act of surrender on a regular basis, then our “sick self” and the “death urge” get the upper hand.
However, the act of surrendering to God is not something we can do in our own strength. As our Rector Russ Levenson has been telling us these last weeks, it is only by grace that we are saved. It is only the love of God reaching out to us that enables us to empty ourselves so that God can fill us with His unending love. Yet accepting that grace requires practice—daily practice. No one realistically believes that they can be successful at the game of golf without practicing, but many evidently think they can be a Christian with no effort at all.
Yet if we accept God’s grace and daily say “no” to the evil within us by refusing to be bitter, by refusing to put other people down, by learning to forgive, and by saying “yes” to whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious and excellent; then by that grace we become more like Christ and the world around us changes for the better. The road to God’s Kingdom is not an easy journey, but it is worth the effort. May your journey indeed be fruitful!