Apparently I need some more discipline in my life as I’ve missed a couple of these posts!
The last couple of posts I did regarding, spiritual disciplines, were all about giving something up. First, it was about living a simple life of modesty so you could live in such a way that you could be a blessing to others. Then, it became about fasting and teaching your body and mind to live in a way that was focused on God. This post is not about giving something up. Spiritual disciplines are about training, and that doesn’t mean to cut everything away. Ask any athlete what training is like, and it will sound like a lot of adding onto what they are already doing.
What does “service” mean? The Google dictionary defines it as “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” That seems pretty simple. When a waiter does their job, they are providing a service. When you go see a therapist, they are providing a service. I suppose, pretty much any job that seeks to help or perform tasks for a person is a service. Jesus often described himself as a servant, and as his followers, we should be servants as well. So how do we do this?
“We do good deeds, but God works in us in the doing of them.”
— St Augustine
Remember that we are defining a spiritual discipline as a discipline that we perform and need God’s help to do it. To look at service as a spiritual discipline, I believe that we must be willing to let go of our priorities, so someone else’s good can be provided for. In the early part of the second century, a plague struck the city of Alexandria. As more and more people became sick and died, people fled the city so that they might servive. However, the Christians stayed behind. They put themselves in mortal danger so they could look after the sick and dying to help them. This is the spiritual disipline of service; you look to the needs of others and sacrifice your own to do what Jesus has asked of us.
“God does not love men that are inconstant, nor good works that are intermitted. Nothing is pleasing to him, but what has a resemblance of his own immutability.”
— John Wesley
Another spiritual discipline that we might look to is worship. Many people within our churches believe that merely showing up to a church service, standing and sitting when told, singing some songs, listening to a speaker, and maybe dropping some money in the plate/bucket is worship. After all, that’s what we have largely taught people. But how can worship be a spiritual disciple? I believe that it is found in how we recognize God. Last week we talked about the glory of God presented in Ezekiel. When we have a moment to truly recognize the glory of God, worship is the only reaction. It causes you to humble yourself, because you recognize that you are not great, but small. The glory of God reveals to us who we are, and who God is. This is how we need God’s help to worship. He reveals Himself to us through Jesus Christ, and when we realize what that means, we can see a little of who He is.
“I strongly believe that worship is one of the most important aspects of our Christian life, if not the most important. As a result, Satan has targeted it directly, profusely, and without ceasing. And because of this, it’s vital to understand what it really means to worship — and why, yes, worship is far more than just singing in church.”
— Joshua Hill
How can we meet with God? How can we possibly presume to see God so we can respond to His glory? Since the beginning of Christianity, we have practiced sacraments. All Christians agree on two sacraments (while many have others): baptism and communion. In these actions of worship, God uses our physical world to meet us and we get to experience grace. We get to touch water, bread, and juice or wine and God’s grace touches us back. In baptism we particpate in the death and resurrection of Jesus in order to show the world that we commit ourselves to him. In communion, we get to be filled with the body and blood of Jesus; our strength and provision. Sacraments are how we can intimately interact with the Creator of the universe and recognize how much we need Him.
So much of the Christian life is a reaction to God’s revealing Himself to us. When we see Jesus for who he is, we desire to take his teachings and apply them to our lives. When we see God’s full glory on display (through the Cross, or the night sky, or a vision of a person on fire by a river), we cannot help but recognize our position and give praise to the one who deserves all praise. Do you live this way? Is it a way that you want to live?