Resisting the temptation to be moral
My husband gets this great journal entitled Journal of spiritual formation and soul care. I thought this article by John Coe in Volume 1, Issue 1 was worth quoting in some length. It may be helpful in my journey towards joy.
"I want to address a peculiar temptation, one especially relevant and think universal to those who are dedicated to the Christian life and to ministry. It is what I call the moral temptation.
The moral temptation is the attempt to deal with our spiritual failure, guilt and shame by means of spiritual efforts, by attempting to perfect one's self in the power of the self.
It is the attempt of the well-intentioned believer to use spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines, ministry, service, obedience - being good in general- as a way to relieve the burden of spiritual failure, lack of love and the guilt and shame that results.
It is the temptation to try to relieve a burden that Christ alone can relieve....
My thesis or concern... for those believers who want to give themselves to a life of growth and ministry but are struggling with their faith, is two-fold:
1. That no amount of spiritual effort on their part can ever relieve them of their burden of shame and guilt in the Christian life except Christ. No amount of effort or doing of spiritual disciplines can grow them or fix them.
2. That in fact, the Christian life is not fundamentally about being moral in itself or about being a good Christian boy or girl. It is not fundamentally about obedience to a set of principles or doing spiritual disciplines... It is not even about character formation or imitation of Christ as a model.
... As we grow older in faith, we discover that the Christian life is more about Christ and less about our efforts. It is about what he has done, and about our life "in Christ" and how to open the heart to this New Covenant life dependent on the Spirit.