Why do we practice?
Do you know how our kids get better at soccer? They don’t just show up at the game, they show up for practice! And they don't just show up... they do many different drills and exercises (disciplines) designed to build their skills. It is their engagement and consistent practice in this setting that prepares them for game day!
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that it is the wise person who puts His teachings into practice:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
- Matthew 7:24
Later in the New Testament, Paul writes that we are to train ourselves in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). Bringing the ideas of Jesus and Paul together, we can engage in concrete practices that help us to become more like Christ. It is not the practice itself that changes us, rather it is the way that our heart, mind, body, and soul become able to tune in and receive God’s goodness and grace that becomes the catalyst for change.
God’s grace provides us with power to do what we cannot do on our own, as we become receptive and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our lives. Concrete practices (such as prayer, gratitude, reading and memorizing the Word, acts of service, etc.) create space for us to receive the love and power from God that grows us into people who naturally love the way Jesus loves.
Our friend and mentor, Dr. Jim Wilder, taught that the litmus test of our spirituality is when we freely, naturally, and routinely love our enemy. The question we can ask ourselves is, "Is the way I am arranging my life leading me to the capacity, with Christ, to naturally love my enemies?" If the answer to that question is no (which is often the case), consider it wonderful feedback because then we can pause, notice, and begin to arrange a new set of practices. With the help of God’s grace and love, our commitment to practice will strengthen our spiritual "muscles" in such a way that love can truly become the natural by-product of our interactivity with Christ.
What better time than the season of Lent to focus, tune in, and create space for this kind of training and growth? Many people during this season already participate in some form of fasting, and may not even realize why. So over these next days and weeks, we will share some simple practices here on the blog that help us all to grow closer to God and experience His presence more and more - as individuals and in community.
Note: Want to learn more? Download an example of daily practices and/or sign up to receive daily Lent Practice text reminders straight to your phone starting on Ash Wednesday, 2/26 through Easter, 4/12.
- Lent Day 1: What is Lent?
- Join us for the "Tune In" sermon series, 3/1- 4/5
- View all Lent-related posts