Let’s look at two more terms that are often misunderstood – Spiritual Disciplines and the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual Disciplines – If you don’t have a grasp of the concept of Grace then Spiritual Disciplines will seem like a set of legalistic requirements that if you are not practicing indicate your poor faith and lack of devotion. We often feel frustrated because we don’t pray and read our Bibles enough and to have another list of spiritual activities to do just makes this idea of spiritual growth seem more daunting.
In a previous post, we learned that grace is God’s action in our lives to accomplish what we cannot accomplish on our own. Spiritual Disciplines are the best way that I know of to increase God’s action in our lives. For example, by spending more time in silence I give God more room to speak to me and draw closer to me. By fasting, I learn that God has provisions for me that go much farther than the material. By worshiping, I focus my mind on “things above and not on earthly things”. Everyone of these examples creates an avenue for God to work in my life. If I was not intentionally practicing these things then I am reducing God’s place in my life to afterthoughts and pushing him to the periphery of my life.
If you are still put off by the term discipline, then replace it with the word training. No person has ever completed a marathon without some kind of training. It is the same in your Christian life. You will not grow closer to God or become more like Christ by wishing it to happen; you have to train your spirit (non-physical side) so that real change can occur.
Holy Spirit – After reading the above definition you probably have started to wonder where the Holy Spirit fits into all of this. Though Spiritual Disciplines are an important ingredient in change, they have no power without the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for one purpose and that is to make us disciples of Jesus. James Bryan Smith says that, “everything that happens to us in our Christian life is the work of the Holy Spirit.” When you become frustrated with your Christian life, it is the Holy Spirit that nudges you toward a new set of priorities. When you read scripture, it is the Holy Spirit that draws your attention to a certain passage that speaks to a specific need in your life. If you have gotten anything out of these blog postings it is due, not to me, but to the Holy Spirit moving in your heart and mind to be inspired by what is written here.
One of the last things that Jesus tells his disciples is that, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). This is the role of the Holy Spirit in our Spiritual Formation – to be an unseen teacher constantly reminding us of what Jesus did and said.