Spiritual Journey? Not for me.

Perhaps the most common metaphor to discuss the idea of faith or life is the metaphor of a journey.

In the church we use this metaphor a lot. We discuss how your "walk with Christ is going" or express we are on the "spiritual journey" or the "journey of faith". Even sermons are critiqued on if the preacher "got somewhere" in their sermon. You may have "arrived on a mountain top" in your life as you were "marching to Zion" or "walked in the valley of the shadow of death."

It is a rich metaphor which makes it difficult for me to abandon. But it seems like the church must put this metaphor down and learn to embrace other metaphors.


Because the underlying assumption in the journey metaphor is that there is a destination. We walk by faith toward some goal or until we arrive at a destination. When we use the journey metaphor there is an unspoken assumption that we would not be on the journey without the destination. No one likes the idea of "meandering" or "wondering" - even thought these are words that fit the journey metaphor they are rarely invoked in a positive light.

We want to reach for the "highest goal" that we "might receive the prize." Because "when we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be".

The journey metaphor gives us a built in excuse to avoid religion all together if our lives are not moving toward the goal we feel we should be meeting. If our lives are not becoming better or if I "don't get anything out of it" then we are free, under the faith as a journey metaphor, to abandon religion and/or faith. Journey metaphor means that when we are not reaching the goal in a timely manner we have a crisis of faith and then we turn to the metaphor for some help in understanding only to find that everyone else seems to be suggesting that you are in fact being carried by Christ on your walk.

Finally, the metaphor of a journey is the fact that the primary actor in the metaphor is the individual. Not God or even the community, but the individual. We can be on a spiritual journey and not have room for God, which is fine for other religions but not Christianity.

To some the walk metaphor is comforting and I am glad that it is. However, for many people (this author included) this metaphor has too many problems to be held on to for much longer.

Do you have any suggestions?