Discipline and Faith

People riding bikes

Earlier this week I rode a push bike for the first time in a couple of decades. 

While it is true that you never forget how to ride, it is also true that the muscles have to develop strength and co-ordination. So my first ride of 5 km took me about 30 minutes and left me so stressed I had to sit on the floor of the bathroom for 10 minutes to recover. The second ride over the same route took the same time but I was less stressed by the exertion. The third ride took just 20 minutes and was hardly any effort at all.

In almost every area of life, we expect to have to practise to master any skill. Some things come easy to us, but to excel we have to practise and learn new skills in order to rise to new levels of endurance.

When it comes to faith we have something of a blind spot. Because we are saved by grace and have to do nothing to receive it, then we expect Christian maturity should come equally easily.

Being born is easy for a baby. The mother does all the work. After the birth the baby starts a long process of learning, exercising muscles, growing, developing and attaining skills.

We need to grow in our relationship with God. We need to grow in our ability to see things from a spiritual, as opposed to a natural, viewpoint. We need to grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In order to do these things there are some practices or disciplines that we need to embrace and make a regular part of our lives:

Fellowship in corporate worship and in cell groups

  • Daily Bible reading
  • Constant prayer
  • Fasting
  • Sharing our faith or witnessing
  • Serving the poor
  • Tithing
  • Confession of sins and repentance

"No, that's legalism or tradition" you might say.

Actually it's a process of becoming mindful of our God and Saviour.

I'm not saying you have to do these things to make God love you. Your mother loves you even when you refuse to eat your vegetables. You are free to eat whatever you like, but some foods are better to eat than other things.

If you want to grow closer to the Lord, to know the grace of His presence in every part of your life, then you will need to train your self- spirit, mind and body- to orient around God.

It takes practice, effort and persistence. Sometimes it seems much harder than it should, like riding a bike for the first time in 20 years.

The reward of ever growing strength in the spirit, a closer awareness of the grace of God, is so precious.