Cooling in faith is, in my opinion, one of the most painful problems of modern church life. This is something that you very often have to talk about in confession, just in conversations with people and what more often you have to think about.
Almost every one of us experienced in one way or another in the beginning of his church life what can be called a burning heart. When a person opens his life with Christ, life in the Church, he usually feels this life as a joy, and nothing in its surrounding reality can compare with it. At first (and the period of the "first steps" in the Church for someone lasts weeks, someone - months, and someone - and several years), the Lord of man supports, like the mother of a young child, and does everything for him . It is not surprising that this life with God appears at first not only joyous, but also very easy - a person literally flies, and he does not know that this flight is not on his wings, that this flight was given to him so that he would learn the feeling of flight and to this freedom sought afterwards.
And then everything starts to change gradually. It becomes more difficult to live in the Church, everything has to overcome itself in greater, and at the same time it begins to hide, as it were, the fullness, the joy of being with God, which originally characterized this life. We must understand that this is not a cooling in faith, it is some part of the process of our becoming in it. But modern man is at this moment, described in detail by many holy fathers, often stumbles so that he falls into a distressed spiritual state - cold, insensible and in some sense lifeless.
Sometimes believing Christians have to give, according to the word of the apostle Peter, a report in their hope (see: 1 Pet. 3: 15), to answer a question of approximately this content: "Here you go to the temple, you are a Christian. How do you explain that sometimes Christians, church people do things that the pagans do not allow themselves? "
There are a lot of reasons for this question, unfortunately. And, I think, you should not leave an answer to it, because if you do not give an answer, a person will think that this is some kind of unresolved bewilderment for ourselves. And still, if you try to explain this, there is some difficulty.
You become a Christian when you begin to live in a Christian way - diligently, sincerely
First of all, probably, we will say that not everyone who visits the church and is called a Christian, he really is. A person can be a believer - and the demons believe, and tremble (James 2: 19), a person can be a church person - it is good to know the teachings of the Church, attend worship services; but he becomes a Christian only when he really begins, through pain, through the change of his heart, to learn Christian life - perhaps not very effectively, but diligently, sincerely and with a pure heart. But there are not so many such people - and in the Church you can meet along with them those who are completely alien to the spirit of Christ, but it is not necessary to judge by the actions of nominal Christians about people whose life choice is to be a disciple of Christ.
And here the interlocutor, especially if it is a practical man, a business man, used to spending time and energy rationally, may ask: "But what then in the Church, where a person is called to the Christian life to learn, makes a huge number of people who do not learn this life? What is the reason not to develop and not to leave? "
And this is a valid question. Moreover, most of us ask ourselves such questions in everyday life and give reasonable answers. For example, parents bring a child to an art school or sports section. After a while they will almost certainly ask a teacher or coach about whether there is a prospect, is there a result. And if it becomes clear to them that the child, from year to year doing, draws some scrawl or can not sit on the twine, it is unlikely to leave it there simply do not understand why, just to go. And at the same time, it may not occur to the same people that their stay in the Church should not be like that either "for no reason" and "for nothing". This state, when a person is still praying, still fasting, is still confessing because of spiritual inertia: if it were not, it would have been outside the Church for a long time, but it still retained the echo of a push that took place in his spiritual life.
How does this inertia arise, what is destructive in it and what are its properties?
The domino effect
Probably, we can say that there are several reasons for the emergence of spiritual inertia. This may be a shallow understanding of Christianity, often associated with the fact that people are not at all accustomed to dig deep, get to the heart of things. He received some experiences in the Church, they touched him, inspired him, but the life of the Church remained a closed book for him - and when the period of calling grace passed and everything is not so easy and joyful, the more I do not want to open it. There are people for whom this is even a certain principle of life: "I feel good here and now - why unnecessary questions? Tomorrow I'll leave it all, if something else will be more pleasant for me. " And this is by no means always connected with some immoral way of life: one can adhere to the norms of external piety, but to live essentially as such, without even realizing it.
To think so: "Yes, I do not do that, but I'm in the Church!" - a dangerous illusion
Another reason, very banal and common, is negligence. And no, probably, there is not a single person among us who does not suffer from this ailment. But one person constantly tries to overcome himself, and then somehow moves forward, and the other chooses the path of creating an illusion: yes, I do not do this and I do not do it and in the temple it was not a long time ago, but I am in Church, and in principle everything is fine. And what happens at this time with the soul? The same as with the muscles of the body, if they are not put in motion for a long time: the soul, if it does not work, at some point becomes completely powerless. And a person, it is likely, will at some moment feel that he has broken like a paralysis of the heart - and not just the belief in him is not hot, but his soul does not obey at all. And to get out of this state, to return to normal church life is already very difficult.
And one more is a very serious reason. The Lord does not accidentally say that we, if we follow Him, will have to reject ourselves (see: Matthew 16: 24). Often a Christian during the first steps in the Church does not think about it, or he thinks that he has rejected himself already. But sooner or later a person stumbles into something so profound, secret, passionate that he would very much like to save in his life, but with what it is impossible to continue to follow the Lord. Perhaps, it is necessary to forgive - and not some ordinary oversight, but something serious and difficult. Perhaps, it is necessary to refuse an illegal connection with a person, let's say, not free. Yes, the mass is such a thing! .. And there are again two ways: let the Lord take it from us, take the matches from the child, or grab it with all his strength and do not give it to God, thus putting the limit of his Christian life . And in the second case, the process of internal degradation begins, not only spiritual but also intellectual: how many examples can be seen of how a person who has recently understood everything, noticed, correctly estimated in his spiritual state, completely loses that spiritual vision and spiritual reasoning, who previously helped him to follow Christ. And to see this in a person who has already met in the life of Christ is bitter - this is a great tragedy.
I think it will not be an exaggeration to say that cooling in faith is dangerous not only for an individual person - it is dangerous for the community in which this person is located, and, for the most part, for the life of the Church as a whole. In a sense, there is a domino effect here: we see people around us in the temple who are relaxed, cool, do not want anything, and our hands drop. And if we are surrounded by people who live comprehensively, responsibly, diligently, then we will be more eager to strive and try. And this is not some "herd feeling" - it is quite natural thing: good examples inspire, evil ones - corrupt. Just do not, of course, all blame for the abundance of bad examples; the main thing is that we ourselves do not become an example of tempters for our fellow Christians.
It happens that a person who has cooled in faith for any of the reasons described, makes a conclusion for himself: "Christianity does not work for me" and goes looking for some "more effective method of personal growth" for all sorts of seminars and trainings. And here, by the way, you can ask yourself: why are there so many and very different kinds of people in our time: from business courses that promise an indispensable business success, to some kind of literally sects? The fact is that a person who does not know how to work within the framework of his choice will endlessly search for something new - and there are a lot of such rushing people in our time, so the demand forms a proposal. And sometimes you try to understand: what did this or that person achieve, which promises all those who want to teach self-development, self-disclosure? And quickly enough you come to the conclusion that his only achievement is that he found a certain number of people who could convince himself that his services are necessary. When someone tells me that someone "left Orthodoxy" because he discovered "a different spiritual system", I understand that sooner or later he will leave from there somewhere else, and then somewhere else - and at the end ends either return to Christ, or perish, completely entangled, in some unthinkable sect, or become an inveterate atheist, convinced that the spiritual life is entirely a fiction, because "it does not work in any way."
But these people were baptized and, like others, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were filled with spiritual fullness, but they reached the point of complete devastation. It happens always when a person does not perceive as a gift what is given to him: gradually he begins to feel that nothing has been given to him. This is not only about the gift of faith - it's even deeper, the very gift of life can be said: a person who is not grateful to God for living, can get to the idea that life is a curse, and his being on earth is turned into hell , that in his eternal life he will be separated from God. And of course, such terrible examples should induce us to believe in our faith, our ability to live with God, as some fertile land, in ourselves to cultivate.
I did not accidentally use the word "scary" here. Perfect love casts out fear (1 IN. 4: 18), says the Apostle John the Theologian, and the believing person should not be afraid of some paralyzing fear of his Creator, nor should he fear anything in the world that could force him to betray God. But in itself fear as a human feeling is an effective motive, and in some cases more effective than encouragement. And man, in order to encourage himself to correction, can use it as a medicine. And sometimes we even absolutely need to scare ourselves: to understand, in the face of what danger our negligence or our unwillingness to reject ourselves, and to be afraid of it, put us.
What will happen to us if we lose the gift of faith? The condition of a person who has lost faith is despair; it is not always realized, but it is always so. This condition is similar to the swimmer's condition, which, being in rough waves, lost a life ring - and his waves are sweeping, he can not swim and feels that he is dying. And in my opinion, the fear of losing all faith, which came after cooling, is a very strong incentive to hold on faithfully and do everything so that it does not faint so that it becomes hotter. Because it is she - our faith - is the victory that gives us the opportunity to be winners in any situation. This is what the apostle John says, the beloved disciple of Christ: This is the victory that overcometh the world, our faith (1 IN. 5: 4).
The hot, uncooled faith of a person transforms not only him, but the world around him and gives him the opportunity to be part of eternity here on earth. A person who believes in Christ really feels life as a miracle. And is this opportunity to feel life as a miracle and to live on the threshold of eternity is not worth it for now? We do not need to wait for some serious life shocks, some trials in which our faith will rise and rise again. It is much better today to try to fill our lives with all those that nurture, strengthen and warm our faith in order to preserve this most basic gift , the greatest treasure.
We know that faith can be small, barely smoldering, at the risk of completely extinguishing the charcoal, or maybe a flame that gives light and warmth, warming and cheering the heart. And if sometimes it becomes absolutely incomprehensible to us what to do with ourselves, so that faith can not be lost, but preserved and raised in itself, then what to do with coal, so that a flame from it is kindled, I think, decisively all. On coal it is necessary to blow, that it has inflamed more strongly, and that fire does not go out, it needs food - firewood, "eating" which, it will please our eyes and our body.
The more consistently we do what Christ expects from us, the more our faith becomes stronger
"Breath", "air", necessary for our faith, is as often as possible a memory of God, His love and mercy to us, about the events from our life and other people, about this love and the mercy of witnessing. This is a remembrance of how the Lord created us, calling from non-being to being. The fact that one day our life will end and we will appear before Him to give an answer for the way we ordered it. And "firewood" ... Firewood - these are the things that our faith should motivate us to create. Our heart can inwardly oppose them, our will may be inclined in a completely different direction, but if our mind realizes that it is a matter of faith and that it is unbelief, then we must induce ourselves to act as the Christian conscience demands, for there is such a law: the more often and the more consistently we perform what faith requires and what Christ expects from us, the stronger our faith becomes, the more lively, the stronger it is.
And the more lively and stronger we are.