I have been reading and greatly enjoying what God is teaching me through the book “The Imperfect Disciple” by Jared C. Wilson. He asks a question that struck me, and I just want to share it with you:
“Does your relational upkeep with the Lord feel more like discipline and less like delight?”
When we think about following Jesus, we mostly think of what we call the spiritual disciplines: Bible reading, prayer, meditation, fasting, etc. However, we often look at them as tasks on a checklist, right?
I grew up in a home where I was taught to make lists. I still do it to this day. Well, it’s one thing to write things down on a list, but it’s something altogether different to have the discipline to complete what is on that list. If I’m not disciplined in accomplishing my tasks, I could begin to put things off that are not that important or could wait until tomorrow. In all honesty, my physical health is one of those tasks that keeps getting pushed to the back burner. Can I get a witness? I say “I’ll start eating right and exercising tomorrow” all the time! It’s a lack of discipline.
I tend to treat the Christian life like that, and maybe you do, too. We make a list of all the spiritual things we need to do for that day. We may even have special set aside times that we do these things. Maybe you have a quiet time where you read the Bible, pray, and meditate. Maybe you just make sure that get them done before the day is over. I found myself more than a time or two going to bed and thinking “I forgot to do my daily Bible reading” or “I forgot to do my meditation.” Then I rush through it because I have to get it done.
One of the things that I have realized and that the Holy Spirit is teaching me through the Word of God and “The Imperfect Disciple” is that our focus as a church, at least in my experience, has been more on making following Jesus a discipline than a delight. In other words, it seems as though we have to work to be holy. But Wilson writes some freeing words. Read these words slowly and think through them:
“We are not holy because we work. We work because we are holy. If we don’t get this order right, we don’t get Christianity right. And we will always struggle with the so-called spiritual disciplines — struggle against them, even.”
We work from a place of delight. We read the Bible because we love its Author. We pray because we want to spend time talking with our Father. We meditate because we want to know more about God. We fast because we want to know that God is all we need. We do what we do because our delight is in God! He is what brings us joy!
I love how Paul ends Ephesians. I will talk about this a little bit in my podcast for this week, but I want to share it now because it fits so well. Paul writes:
“…love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
We need to return to living a life where we love Jesus purely and simply! Delight in him! Following him costs a lot and it is hard, but if we delight in him, it will totally be worth it! As my favorite restaurant’s employees say, “It’s my pleasure.” It will be our pleasure, our delight to live for Jesus, when we live from a position of love for him!