Spiritual journey is a phrase used by many different religions to mean the natural progression of a person as they grow in understanding of God, the world, and himself. It is an intentional lifestyle of growing deeper in knowledge and wisdom. But what is meant by a spiritual journey toward Christlikeness is vastly different from a journey toward some kind of “spirituality” that does not include, and is not based upon, the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are several differences between the Christian spiritual journey and the New Age version. New Agers say to chant mantras for several hours a day. The Bible says to have daily conversations with God through prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). New Agers believe that people can choose their own path in their journey and that all paths lead to the same destination. The Bible says that there is only one path—Christ (John 14:6). New Agers believe a spiritual journey will result in harmony with the universe. The Bible teaches that the universe is at war (Ephesians 6:12) and part of the journey is fighting for other souls and our own walk (1 Timothy 6:12).
Another difference is that the Bible actually talks about a spiritual journey and the steps through it. A Christian starts as a child (1 Corinthians 13:11), still seeing the world through naïve eyes, still influenced by the flesh, and in need of basic education about God and their position with God (1 Corinthians 3:1–2; 1 Peter 2:2). And new Christians are given work in the church appropriate to their position as young in the faith (1 Timothy 3:6). As Christians grow in understanding about God and the world, they learn more about how to act and how to relate to the world (Titus 2:5–8). A person further along in his spiritual journey becomes an example to the younger (Titus 2:3–4) and, sometimes, a leader in the church (1 Timothy 3).
At the heart of the spiritual journey is the understanding that it is a journey. None of us are perfect. Once we become believers, we are not expected to achieve instant spiritual maturity. Rather, the Christian life is a process involving both our attention (2 Corinthians 7:1) and God’s work in us (Philippians 1:6). And it has more to do with opportunity and intentionality than with age (1 Timothy 4:12). Author John Bunyan, in his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, pictured the spiritual journey as a road full of trials, dangers, and blessings, starting with the cross and ending at the Celestial City.
A spiritual journey filled with empty chanting will only lead to an empty heart. A journey filled with studying the Bible, obedience to what it says, and trusting God is a lifelong adventure that will bring true understanding of the world and a deep love for its Creator.