The tendency of man is to seek comfort. Due to the fall and sin, this tendency has led to a lowering of mankind’s eyes from his true goal: life in, and union by grace with, Christ. Many times instead of striving for the Kingdom of God we surround ourselves with earthly pleasures and worldly ease. Moreover, modern man has become increasingly fixated on instantaneous pleasure: “I want it now, easy, and my way.” This desire is then projected onto the Christian life. “Christianity” simply becomes an excuse, a platform, in which a spiritual experience is sought that satisfies now, while all struggle and effort are avoided. Men seek a message that is centered around earthly enjoyment, self-satisfaction, and effortless spiritual power. Yet in the pursuit of true life in the Spirit, one must lay aside such ideas and desires for immediate results and worldly pleasure. St. Macarius the Great councils, “Most want to possess the kingdom without labors and struggles and sweat, but this is not possible … Most wish to obtain the kingdom and desire to have eternal life, but, following their own wills, they refuse to control them. They are rather more like a sower who sows vain desires. They refuse to deny themselves and still wish to receive eternal life, which is a thing impossible.”
Life in the Spirit is not an instant way of ease. To embark upon the pursuit of God is to walk upon the narrow way: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mat. 7:13-14).
Life in the Spirit is a life-long transformation. It is a way embarked upon and trodden faithfully. Christ Himself compares the spiritual life, the following His life-giving commandments, to the building of a house (cf. Mat. 7: 24-27). Each stage must be sought and followed with care and diligence. Each step builds upon and relies on the preceding. Progress forward is not a distinct movement from one level to the next. It is, instead, an organic unity and progression; each stage is ever sustaining and supporting the next. There is never a time when the building stops relying on the foundation – without which the whole structure would collapse. Even though one may speak of various separate parts of a structure it is understood that only as a whole do they comprise the building. So it is with life in the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit does not enter into the temple of our body and soul uninvited. A Christian is free to refuse the gift of the Holy Spirit. Once grace moves upon the heart the believer must answer, thus entering into a work of synergy. The Holy Spirit stands waiting; we must open the door and allow Him to reign in our life. By grace, we are building our hearts into temples of the living God.