A Call to Return to the Spiritual Disciplines
Multiple Christian books are touted to the public as game changers, or life altering, and no doubt there are a few that can claim such an honor with integrity; most can’t. I would like to be able to say I was searching for a book like Celebration of Discipline. However, the truth is, Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster, was searching for me, and I’m glad it found me. If you are in need of a refreshing of your spirit or just a new beginning, then be prepared not just to read a book, but prepare yourself to be read by it.
Foster welcomed some sound advice from a friend over 20 years ago when he began to write Celebration of Discipline. He was encouraged to “Be sure every chapter forces the reader into the next chapter.” Foster met that challenge with surgical precision. I contend that Fosters book is among one of the most compelling and brilliant books on the Christian disciplines every written. It is a book you need in your library and one that will forever remain in your heart.
I’m amazed at the beauty and care of God toward His own, even when His own have been following Him for years, and believe they have the basics down to an automatic science. Regardless, there are times and seasons to return to the Christian disciplines. There are times to revisit the core of each discipline, to take an inventory, and to make sure you have not drifted into relying on your own abilities in service to God and others. The call to return to the Christian Disciplines is a call back to loyalty, a call to check to ensure that Jesus is the center of all spiritual reality in your life.
To visit and continue to revisit the disciplines is a calling! It is a calling as sure as the invitation to salvation. We need God for actual life, and we need the disciplines for living out that life. Our calling as Christ followers takes us beyond the shore. Our calling is to the deep. We are called to descend into the inner heart of God, and fill ourselves from his endless riches. Where we are hollow, He will fill. Where we are broken, He will mend. Where we are depressed, He will bring joy. Where the flame is dying, He will fan. The Christian Disciplines are life altering and Jesus waits for you to enter his narrative of joy.
The beauty of the disciplines is the simplicity of them. There is no test to pass in order to take advantage of the disciplines. The only condition is that you desire to spend time with God. Somewhere, deep in your life, there is an unanswered boredom you can’t quite put your finger on. You know something is missing, and church services alone are not healing the burden of your weighed soul. You feel your soul crying to walk into the Holy of Holies, and so you must answer the call.
You breathe, yet your soul is still heavy. You laugh, although your soul is unrested. You battle, but the fight is never without, only within. You thirst for significance, only to realize that’s not the goal of life. We are all alike and often in the same place— waiting on the shore, hesitant for our egos to die that we might actually live. The disciplines are not mechanical but rather spiritual and life-giving. Religious duties are not the call of God. Rather, a giving of your heart, soul, mind and strength to God anew is the call of Christian Disciplines.
Will you choose meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance and celebration? They have chosen you through the grace of God and wait for your response. The disciplines need you, and you need them. The gospel can’t be fulfilled without the disciplines operating in your life.
Some day, all things will be set right. Some day, all things will be made new. Some day, there will be a new heaven and earth. Some day, New Jerusalem will come down to meet us. Some day, the dwelling place of God will be with us. Some day, there will be no more tears to dry. Some day, death will be no more. Some day, we will see Him face to face. Some day, His glory will flood the universe. Some day, we will put on our resurrected bodies, but the path there is called Spiritual Disciplines.
In the words of D. Elton Trueblood, “The greatest problems of our time are not technological, for these we handle fairly well. They are not even political or economic, because the difficulties in these areas, glaring as they may be, are largely derivative. The greatest problems are moral and spiritual, and unless we can make some progress in these realms, we may not even survive.”
We will not survive by being over involved in our own ‘good works.’ It is and will always be the spiritual disciplines that keep us beholding the face of God. The most beautiful mystery of scripture is that God pursues you, so you might pursue Him. God sent His Son so that all humanity has an opportunity of Salvation and to become fully human. Christ came to humanity, and while we were yet sinners, he died for us. The pursuit of God is indeed beautiful and mysterious. The pursuit of God is always that you might follow.
Only hearing the invitation to follow Him is not following. Talking about the invitation to follow is not following. Admiring those who have accepted the invitation to follow is not following. You only become a follower of Christ when you follow Him. In other words, you become something by doing.
Christ is shaping us, and His Spirit has filled us to shape the world around us. We are called to dependency on Him in order to show the world His glories power working through weakness. Our very lives announce the redemption that is possible through Christ alone. The Christian Disciplines are calling you back to rediscover an authentic walk with God. Will you answer the call?
Steve Wright is the Pastor of Legacy Church in Cherryville, NC. He is the author of “The Descent into Compassion,” which can be purchased on Amazon. You can read more on his blog at http://stevewright.info/.