Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebration of Discipline: Intro and Chapter 1

The thing about my life as a Christian is that most of it has been a swath of ignorance puncuated by moments of awesome revelation. I mean to say that I'm oblivious for days, weeks, or even months at a time and then suddenly I get it. I'm awake to my current state and I'm left wondering why I ever was asleep. This book Celebration of Discipline has brought one of those moments.

I started reading it because the title so appealed to me that I couldn't ignore it. Discipline is something that I like the idea of but I never subject myself to its boundaries and therefore never experience its benefits. That's what I'm seeing in my future. The main benefit being an unexpected liberation. I say "unexpected" but if you think about it, discipline in children leads ultimately to their liberation as adults that successfully function in society. A lack of discipline now could lead in the end, to more dire consequences from societies laws. The spiritual disciplines applied now, I hope, will lead to a continual freedom in the Spirit that I've only experienced on occasion up til now.

Why do I dare to hope this will happen? Because what the first chapter teaches. It teaches something that I have constantly practiced. The author says, after referencing Colossians 2:20-23, "The moment we feel we can succeed and attain victory over sin by the strength of our will alone is the moment we are worshiping the will. Isn't it ironic that Paul looks at our most strenuous efforts in the spiritual walk and calls them idolatry 'will worship'?"

I had practiced this 'will worship' for some time and tried very hard to make every effort to stop sinning. Since God called me to be perfect as my heavenly father is perfect, I tried to. Eventually I realized the great Grace that God had given and stood corrected. Grace meant I didn't have to try to be perfect, in fact I believed I didn't have to try at all. Here is where this book gives me hope because he says

"The moment we grasp this breathtaking insight we are in danger of an error in the opposite direction. We are tempted to believe there is nothing we can do. If all human strivings end in moral bankruptcy (and having tried it, we know it is so), and if righteousness is a gracious gift from God (as the Bible clrealy states), then is it not logical to conclude that we must wait for God to come and transform us? Strangely enough, the answer is no. The analysis is correct - human striving is insufficient and righteousness is a gift from God - but the conclusion is faulty."

I had made the above conclusion many times and I had never heard clearly the final conslusion.

"Happily there is something we can do. We do not need to be hung on the horns of the dilemma of either human works or idleness. God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us."

Then he quotes Galations 6:8, "he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."

All of this brings me hope because it puts me on a path toward spiritual growth and transformation. Before I was on a path with external direction from my church, from my reading, from listening to sermons. Now I feel like I'm going to get on a path with all of those and the internal direction from God and his word to guide me.

I'll keep posting as I feel led. By God's grace I hope I'll see some new changes in me.

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