Thursday, March 11, 2004

On Spiritual Disciplines

I've been reading Dallas Willard and Richard Foster in preparation for a three week teaching series on "Spiritual Disciplines." I chose to teach on the topic because I've sensed for quite some time that I need to learn about this stuff.

Willard's got a pretty tough proposition he sets forth in his Spirit of the Disciplines: we don't live like Jesus (the way he called us to live) because we don't order our lives like he did. We assume that a "spiritual" life is one divorced from the "real" world around us. To the contrary, the spiritual life is one lived in the real world according to principles of God's Kingdom instead of those of the world around us.

Kingdom living means choosing deliberate solitude, intentional community, time for prayer, meditation, and fasting. It means living a life of premeditated submission to the people around us and serving them, washing feet like the Master. It's a different way -- a redemptive way -- of living life in the world, not a way of stepping out of it.

My biggest thought right now is that "gee, I've got a lot to change if I'm going to recieve the Kingdom." But I don't think that a big, unsustainable life change is the point. It's the smaller, sustainable changes that will create a place in our lives for the Master. The purpose (says Foster) is to live in continual communion and obedience with the Lord, free to love and live in joy. The Disciplines are a matter of how we get there from here.

So I'm going to do it, bit by bit. I can take twenty minutes out of the day to pray for people who matter to me. I can take thirty minutes a few times a week to sit in silence, to let empty places form without seeking to fill them with noise. I can meditate on scripture, and invite Jesus into those places. It's those little things, that way of arranging my life -- not being morally perfect -- that will bring about a life lived under the Reign of God.

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