I don’t believe in coincidences… and so today, when an article showed up in my inbox dealing with spiritual disciplines, I thought, “Hmm… looks like the Lord is wanting to get your attention… so, listen up, Mary!”
I must admit I have a bit of an aversion to the word “discipline.” It conjures up images of exercise (as related to training on sports teams), practice (think of mastering a musical instrument)… in other words, hard work! It also reminds me of being corrected for wrong behavior. Not exactly positive associations.
But God’s Word suggests a different perspective…
“My son [My daughter], do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son [daughter] He delights in.” Proverbs 3:11
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1
“My son [daughter], do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12: 11
Interesting. From God’s perspective, discipline appears to be related to His love for us, to His delight in us, to His “growing us up” so to speak.
And that’s where the article in my inbox comes in. Spiritual disciplines are like tools that help us become more Christ-like…
“Wherever there is something in our life that is not conformed to the image of Christ, there is a place where we are incapable of being all God wants us to be with others… a place where our life with others is hindered and limited and restricted in its effectiveness and in its fulness… a place where our life will tend to become disruptive and even destructive to others. We can never be all God wants us to be with others as long as that point of unlikeness to the image of Christ exists within us.” – M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.
“Each of the spiritual disciplines – rightly practiced – is in some profound way, for the sake of others. The spiritual practices are the means of grace that open us to God’s transforming work in those places where we are not like Christ so that we can be Christ in the world.”—Ruth Haley Barton
So, instead of looking at spiritual disciplines as something to be avoided, something with negative connotations, I think the Lord wants me to be open to learning how these “tools” can help me to more clearly see His love for me, His delight in me, His desire for me to invite Him into those areas of my life that need His transforming touch… so that others will have a more accurate glimpse of who my Lord is.
What about you? How has God been nudging you as we delve into this subject each Sunday? What might He be wanting you to deal with? And how might we, as His body, come alongside one another in the process of becoming more Christ-like? We’ve barely scratched the surface in this sermon series, so stay tuned to see what God may be doing!
Stay safe! Stay healthy! STAY CONNECTED!
on behalf of the Pastoral Care Team (firstname.lastname@example.org)