Beliefs in Christianity are the beginning of the life of the Spirit. They are the gateway to the Way of the Lord, not the entire pathway. Many Christians stay with their beliefs and never move from there. The affirmations of the faith: that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that he lived as a human being, that he suffered death on the cross, that he was resurrected into eternal life, that he is part of the Trinity, etc., are very important. They define the group of sects that constitute the Christian religion. Beyond the beliefs, however, the Lord knocks at the door of the soul of each person every day through the events of his life, the people he encounters and various inspirations. Through his convictions a Christian can draw near to God, at the invitation of Christ and the Holy Spirit, onto the path of life or remain in the security of his beliefs. The choice is his. If he does not want to open himself to God, he can remain at the threshold of the religion far from the promises of the good life in the Bible.
The beliefs without surrender to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit become like a box which contains the religion, but never is unpacked to see what else might be included. Along with the satisfaction of believing in and doing the right things, there is also the danger of pride, hypocrisy and rigidity.
If, on the other hand, the individual accepts the invitation towards a life filled with purpose, he enters onto a path that transforms him, opening the mind and heart so that the Holy Spirit can guide him and base his life in the security of the love of God. The Lord does not exist in rigid boxes, in his life he broke the rules of the Jewish religion, and at the same time fulfilled the law of his Father. According to the New Testament he was not interested in the rules of the religion, but in the spirit of the law. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who followed the law exactly, but forgot the spirit of God’s law, angered him. He was interested in the essence of the beliefs and in the relationship between the believer and other persons and between the believer and God
The life of the Spirit is an adventure into the unknown, but each person who enters in will experience the fullness of life. The Holy Spirit directs him further and further from the preoccupations and the materialism of the world and the person learns to focus his life in the dialogue with God, listening for the direction for where to go, what to do, the words to speak, the services to perform and even the words to pray. He becomes reborn, surrendered to the will of God, living in the world, but not of the world according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. First the person gives over his life to God, the Holy Spirit converts him into a loving human being who is competent to serve God. This process can take the entire life as the Spirit changes the attitudes and actions of the person until he conforms to the desires of God. Sometimes the conversion is sudden and great as in the case of St. Paul, other times it takes a long time, but this is God’s choice.
At any point, however, we can retard the process of transformation by denying entrance to the Holy Spirit. Many issues inside of a person are difficult, for example, in areas of wounding or abuse. The individual may not feel ready to let the Holy Spirit in to heal the pain. Or maybe he does not want to change his attitudes towards other people or himself. Even when one has surrendered his life, he can block or delay the action of the Spirit, but the persistence of the Spirit will overcome the resistance.
The challenge of the religious life is to stay open to the call and action of the Spirit. If the beliefs are keeping one from following Him, the person must follow the Spirit. If his comfort is keeping him in the same place, he must forget his comfort. Anything which comes between him and God is his god. In the Ten Commandments God says to have no other gods before Him. The call of God to us all is to let him transform us and then follow Him wherever He leads. If a person is rigid or angry or evil, then God is not there at all. One must let God transform him into the human being he created him to be. The pathway goes further and further beyond the beliefs.