Let me first apologize for the lack of posts this past month. I was very excited for you all to be able to read one of Soma’s best writers take on another spiritual discipline for you to meditate and practice. But, unfortunately, Mr. Shepherd’s entire computer crashed while in the writing process and it has taken longer to restore. But whenever he can get his post in to us we will publish it immediately- I believe its topic is very valuable but I will let tension build for its arrival!
As some of you have noticed, there are several spiritual disciplines that were not discussed that are core to the Christian life. The initial aim of this small series was to post articles that dealt with spiritual disciplines that are less practiced or given less attention. But as we enter into the school year I wanted to conclude the series with those core disciplines that we oft take for granted.
The first of which is community with the Church. I mention this first because I think that is where most Christians start in the Christian walk. We grow up in Christian families, we are invited to church, or those coffee dates were actually little bible studies to answer all of your questions about God. For a lot of us we connect the beginning of our Christian understanding with somebody or a group of “somebodies”.
As we grow in wisdom it is community that keeps us in check. It is easy to misinterpret Scripture or get a wild idea that is not consistent or make sense that could lead down a dangerous path so it is to our benefit to be in community with people that we can gain wisdom from and struggle with certain issues. Much of the New Testament is based around building and supporting this construct called church to protect, feed, and grow believers. Therefore communing with the church, and specifically a local body, is of utmost benefit.
The second of the core disciplines is the reading, meditation, and application of God’s Holy Word. The church is built around the teachings that we glean from the Bible. For in evangelicalism we believe in God’s verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible. What this means is that the entire Bible, word-for-word, was inspired by the Holy Spirit in the biblical authors. In this belief, listening to what the Bible has to say about life is paramount because we believe it is what God has planned for us. In becoming like Christ we must know what that looks like before we can set out to do it.
What I would like to stress about the discipline of interacting with the Word is that a biblical worldview asks the Christian to accept the Bible in its entirety. In our postmodern age, pluralism and pluralistic beliefs are starting to spill into some Christians. The one that I am pointing to is that you can still be a Christian but pick and choose what you like from the Bible. Now understanding the Bible is not as clean-cut as it may seem, but for the past two thousand years great thinkers have been able to explain biblical texts with consistency and completion. The question that even some of the more solid Christians may face when confronted with a hard biblical text is; who or what are you going to trust? Either one is forced to trust their own interpretation (which is easiest because it means one can make it work with the way they want to live) or the interpretation of others (church, respected scholar, etc). Ultimately, that is at the core behind a lot of people’s problems with the Bible- who or what do they want to trust and why do they want to trust that instead of the Bible? I mean not to oversimplify, but this is what I have observed.
The last of the core disciplines is prayer. This last one I hold personally to be of extreme value. There are many questions surrounding prayer such as why does God ask us to pray when He is omniscient and if He already knows what is going to happen? Can we actually influence the will of God or were our prayers planned to give Him a reason to do what He was going to do anyway? Does God need our prayers to enable in some actions? There are many more questions that one can ask but we should remember that God wants it and sometimes it is all that we can do. In the future, I plan to do either an article or a post talking in-depth on prayer.
But there is one thing that I want to point out about prayer that I have realized. We receive the benefit of tracking how God moves in our lives. If, in prayer, we are focusing on a specific situation or person we are watching for what God will do. I am not saying that we will indefinitely see exactly what God is doing or if we can see it at all, but as we are offering up our requests and thanksgivings to God we are then put into a state where we must watch for what He is doing next. In the Christian life this again helps us on a more situational level realize where God may be leading us—either to help out this person or to join this ministry or to stop and rest. We further seek God’s will by reading His word and by prayer.
I hope you reflect on these things as we enter the next school year. It is far too easy to over work or get caught up in other things and sacrifice the fundamentals.
May God bless you as you go and stay faithful.