Issues of Life

Christian Discipline


In May 2016, I wrote Discipline and Christianity, and republished it on The Naked Convos in June that year.  The feedback was great, and I remember one of the readers asking me to write about the disciplines in Christianity.  I accepted the challenge, but never got around to it.  Ummm…ironic?

Well, there were a number of reasons I didn’t write the post.  The primary reason is that I write by inspiration and not by commission, and so, even with the idea given, I wanted to be led.  I didn’t feel led.  Still, I saved the post in drafts and listed the disciplines I knew of, so that when inspiration came, I could just write the post.

Another reason was that I didn’t feel qualified to teach about the disciplines in Christianity (I still don’t!).  I mean, I just confessed in Discipline and Christianity that I often struggled with the concept of authority and structure.  And the disciplines in Christianity, which are passed on by tradition, require a respect and appreciation for authority and structure.

Yet another reason was that I was still struggling with my understanding of the disciplines themselves, and their purpose.  I have been struggling for a long while with differentiating between the religious and the spiritual, and where they meet and coexist by necessity.  It was one of the reasons why I decided to write the series on Christianity, to separate the culture from the spiritual truth and Faith.  But even with that, inspiration stopped after the fourth post in the series.

Why?

Well, the next thing I needed to address, after discounting the false traditions that had been carried into and are now embedded in the Faith, is WHAT is actually TRUE for and ESSENTIAL to Believers.  What are those disciplines and practices that Christians SHOULD be keeping and found doing, not to “keep” their salvation, but to abide in the Faith, and bear fruit?  And was I really a leader, qualified to teach on these disciplines and practices?  Was it something that I had mastered, and that I am able to teach?

Well, the answer was and is “no”.  I haven’t mastered these disciplines and practices.  I am STILL struggling to separate the very strong influence of culture in Christian traditions, and I do not yet have a clear word from the Holy Spirit about these disciplines.  But, I have renewed inspiration to at least tackle this post.  So, I am optimistic that I too will learn and grow from writing it :).

Okay, so what are these disciplines and practices?  When I saved the post, I listed TWELVE disciplines, being:

Prayer, Praise and Worship, Thanksgiving, Fellowship, Submission, Bible Study, Ministry and Service, Evangelism, Charity, Chastity, Holiness, Faith and Courage.

However, I can immediately see a mistake, which is evidence of a growth in my understanding between now and then.  I wrote “Praise and Worship”, because in modern day Christianity, praise and worship is a separate part of a religious service, when Believers meet in fellowship.  But actually, praise stands alone, and WORSHIP is the summation and culmination of everything we do and are called to do as Believers.  Prayer is worship.  Thanksgiving is worship.  Bible study is worship.  Submission is worship.  Chastity is worship and so it goes.

Each and every one of the things I’ve listed stands alone as an act of worship, and together, make our lives full of worship to God.  Jesus said that God is looking for worshipers, who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:23-24).  We are worshipers, and every discipline and practice we do as Believers is an act of worship.  That’s why there’s a fundamental problem with the question “Where Do You Worship?”

Also looking at the list, it looks like Holy Communion is missing, but I think it will fit in with Fellowship nicely, so that it becomes Fellowship and Communion.  I think the list is now correct and complete* (I use that word tentatively, because there could be more…and in fact, God reveals new ways for us to worship Him, e.g. by a call to retreat or a special sacrifice, like when He called out Abraham, and then asked him to sacrifice Isaac).  I think we should add Fasting and Separation to the list of disciplines, because Jesus said, “…but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast” (Matt 9:15).  So, it seems fasting is one of the those things we will be led to do as Christians, from time to time.

I also feel a burden to add OBEDIENCE to the list.  It is assumed in each of these disciplines, but I feel that it needs to be explicit.  Obedience requires that we are in relationship with God, and are able to HEAR Him, so that when He commands us to do so and so (even if it isn’t among the list of disciplines) or tells us not to do so and so (even if it is among the list of disciplines), we will be able to respond AS HE LEADS.  This is a crucial aspect of our Faith and worship, our ability to hear and heed the word of God per time.

So, we have (in no any particular order):

  1. Prayer and Supplication
  2. Praise
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Fellowship and Communion
  5. Submission and Accountability
  6. Bible Study
  7. Ministry and Service
  8. Evangelism and Mentoring
  9. Charity and Giving
  10. Chastity
  11. Holiness
  12. Faith and Courage
  13. Fasting and Separation
  14. Listening and Obedience

If you can think of more, please let me know.  Even if you’d like to make a correction.  Next time, I will write more on each discipline, what they mean and their purpose in helping us to abide, grow in and live out our Faith to the world.

Photo credit: http://www.unsplash.com

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