This is the fourth installment of Room To Move–Unforced Rhythms of Grace. In order to read previous posts please click the links below:
Before you close the browser and write this one-off as stupid because really, you just think it’s too hard, know, I don’t like discipline either. I’m not writing this as one that has it all together, perfectly denying myself and submitting to God. However, as I’ve purposely chosen (at times) to lower myself to make room God, I’ve found my soul awakened. I find a longing, an ache for God’s reign in my life. Wouldn’t an awakened soul to the fullness of God be worth giving a shot?
Jesus said in John 10:10,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB)
When it really comes down to it. We all want abundant life. I want the fulfilled, purposeful, meaningful life. I want to know my life counted for something. The goal is to live life full, a life filled with joys, struggles, delight, scars and disappointment. The goal is to live in an imperfect world with substandard circumstances with a purpose, a fulfillment and hope and that happens as we go after Jesus. I want to not just push through my circumstances but to move forward with intentionality. I want to continue the rhythms of my life without so much force.
I love to watch the Olympics. There is something awe-inspiring about seeing athletes that excel so completely at their sport. When I watch them on TV, they seem flawless. From the basketball players to the ice skaters to the gymnast, their skill level is remarkable. However, what the television doesn’t show is the countless hours of training, the miles of travel, the sacrificed sleep, food, the relocation of residence, the blood, the sweat, the tears (all very literally). All for one purpose–to win.
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (The Message)
If we want transformed lives—we must train, discipline our bodies and our lives. Yes, we have Jesus, our salvation is secure, but if there is more, we want more. We want more Jesus. Paul is saying, “I’m pressing on as if Jesus is the ONLY prize.” If there is more Jesus to be had, I want more.
The difference, for most Christians, is we treat the Christian life like an Upwards Basketball game. Are you familiar with Upwards? It is a great sports program for kids, usually hosted by churches. The thing about Upwards sports, however, is they don’t keep score. Everyone is a winner. That’s great for Upwards, but that’s simply not the way the Christian life works. It is not a game. Not everyone will receive the prize. If we want to reach our goal of a transformation God’s way, we’ve got to be in it to win it.
Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers. 1 Timothy 4:7-10 (The Message)
These biblical texts, I’ve shared, lend themselves to asking the important question. What does it look like to train, strive and discipline yourself for godliness? I’m glad you asked. Because we will spend the remainder of the book looking at a number of disciplines you are likely familiar with. However, there needs to be a clear understanding before we go any further.
Nothing you do, no amount of discipline will matter if you aren’t striving after Jesus. Jesus does the work as we toil and strive after Him!
That’s what I’m working for. I work hard with all the strength of Christ. His strength works powerfully in me. Colossians 1:29
You must have a goal. You must be intentional. Matt Chandler, pastor at the Village Church in Texas, once said,
“No one stumbles into godliness, ever.”
Not even those that have experienced the supernatural power of God will clumsily find themselves with more Jesus.
Do you remember the story of Moses and the Israelites coming out of Egypt? God wanted to give Moses the Ten Commandments and so Moses went up the mountain to meet with God. While he was receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were down at the foot of the mountain making an idol of gold. Do you recall these are the same people who had walked across dry land with the Red Sea parted for them? They had experienced the ten plagues sent by God and yet only weeks later they are making an idol to worship. How did that happen?
They lacked discipline. They forgot the goal. They were more interested in themselves than in God. You must have a goal. You must be intentional.
Church isn’t just a hobby. Church should be a training facility to teach you the disciplines you need in order to compete. Even from the start, the Church linked deliberate practices, relationships and experiences with a desire for more God, making space in their lives to keep company with Jesus. These practices, relationships, experiences are what we now refer to as spiritual disciplines.
You have the desire, the ache for more and you’re asking the question, “Is this all there is?” The answer is “No. This isn’t all there is. There is more.” The plan is to move past a lukewarm existence in relationship to God and move into intentional practices that point you toward to goal of authentic relationship with God.
You have just completed Chapter 1 of Room To Move.