When we are children our parents instill in us an expectation of worldly success. This is often accompanied by an expectation of goodness or spirituality.
The two are, in most cases, mutually exclusive.
"'If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world - therefore the world hates you.'" John 15:18,19 (NRSV)
"'Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
"'Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.'" Matthew 5:11,12 (NRSV)
"'Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what they did to the false prophets.'" Luke 6:26 (NRSV)
Jesus was not a success in the worldly sense.
He did little and was put to death before he could achieve anything on earth.
The catch-cry of the new age gurus - how to get what you want out of life - is not the purpose of spirituality or religion.
Love, compassion, justice, understanding, peace, forgiveness....
These are the aims of religion and spirituality.
Jesus was a failure - he didn't even go to work!
In school we are taught about the great victors : Alexander, Julius Caesar, Napoleon...
In church we are taught that Jesus is greater - King of Kings and Lord of Lords....
But the Bible calls the great victors beasts.
They don't tell you that in school, or in church for that matter.
So we are left with an impossible task - to succeed in the world and be true Christians at once.
What has happened is that the message of Jesus has been modified to conform to the values of the world.
So that now we are scarcely Christians at all.
(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.)