Christian discipleship is so personal it is very hard to write about in a general way. If my readers have personal disciplines that go beyond the ones mentioned here or vary in some way it is quit alright. The important thing is we have them. And they are meaningful to us and more importantly pleasing to God. So here are a few thoughts about Christian discipleship.
Discipleship sounds difficult and undesirable for most of us. We could think that a disciplined Christian life would be too restrictive – not much fun. On the contrary, discipline will enhance every aspect of our lives once we decide to be serious about reining in the root causes of the things that are working against us – that get out of control. In the end some of the things we thought was “fun” is replaced with inner peace and joy because of self-control and discipline.
We are so different when it comes to Christian discipline because our challenges and weaknesses are particular and peculiar from others. There is some uniformity however. Thinking about this over the years has helped me to categorize five root causes for much of the trouble and heartache in our lives. They are lust, greed, envy, pride and fear – which is unbelief. These manifest themselves in many different ways in all of us. They have an impact in the way we think, and what we say and do; adversely effecting us and those around us. Without diving into each one of these root causes for most of our troubles, the thought here is to recognize them. When we are making a decision about something or responding to what is happening to us we should dig around a bit and see what we are really dealing with – you’ll probably find they are mostly rooted in the four vices mentioned above or we can simply be afraid. Once you figure out the root cause everything becomes much clearer and your able to take the necessary steps to make things better. This takes a lot of work, introspection, honesty and discernment.
We should also take a holistic and practical approach. Christian Discipline should touch every area of our lives; eating healthy, exercise, sleeping well, interpersonal relationships and partnerships, lifestyle choices, employments and careers, educational pursuits and the inner life to mention a few. Meaningful Christian discipline is holistic and practical in nature.
Christian discipleship is not without context: Christian discipleship should never activate a judgmental attitude. Good hearted and sincere Christians who finally get some self-control working in their lives who turn to others with a judgmental gaze; forgetting that they have struggled to wrestle down their passions and fears. A Judgmental disposition poisons our souls and others around us. Christian discipline should also be balanced. Moderation is the key. Once we discover the inner and outer benefits of a disciplined life it can be tempting to become inordinately monastic and isolated. Outside of a special calling, we are meant to live a full life with friends and family. And enjoy the fruits of our labors, robust and impelling with healthy constraints.
We work to maintain, update and revise our Christian disciplines as we mature. Christian discipleship should not be a straight-jacket but a loose fitting garment. We must be have room to breath! Living life without feeling deprived and inept while trying to live up to the goals we set for ourselves. We must learn how to forgive ourselves when we experience lapses and intermittent failures. God forgives us for our failures. If He didn’t we could never get back up and start again! We could never be better.
Joseph C. Hutchison, Rochester Hills Michigan, May 2020 Published by Permission Only