For some people, the enjoyment of community is not a discipline, but a delight. But there are many in our individualistic culture who are more inclined toward autonomy and independence than to body life. For them, a willingness to actively seek mutual encouragement and edification is a discipline that will eventually pay dividends through regular exposure to a diversity of natural and spiritual gifts. Our experience with God is mediated through the body of Christ, and koinonia (communion, fellowship, close relationship, association) with other believers plays an essential role in our spiritual formation. This dynamic of fellowship should not be trivialized by reducing it to “punch and cookies” or “potluck suppers.”
Submission and Guidance
The discipline of voluntary submission to others as an expression of our submission to Christ is based upon the biblical mandate for us to seek the good of others rather than our own rights. Mutual subordination and servant hood frees us from having to be in control and to have things go our own way. By imitating Christ in this discipline of self-denial, we become increasingly concerned with the needs of others.
The discipline of guidance involves the recovery of the widely overlooked pursuit of spiritual direction. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness in the evangelical community of the need for seeking spiritual guidance through accountability to mentors whose credibility is established by experience and maturity. Guidance is also a corporate discipline in which a body of believers seeks a Spirit-directed unity.
Simplicity, Stewardship, and Sacrifice
These disciplines reinforce each other since they all relate to our attitude and use of the resources that have been placed at our disposal. The discipline of simplicity or frugality refers to a willingness to abstain from the use of these resources for our own gratification. A mindset of simplicity helps us resist the cultural endorsement of extravagance and consumption that entices us away from gratitude, trust, and dependence upon the Lord. This discipline frees us from the multiplicity of fleshly desires and anxiety over trivial things, and it helps to deliver us from the bondage of financial debt.
The related discipline of stewardship encourages us to reflect on our lives as managers of the assets of Another. In addition to the usual trilogy of time, talent, and treasure, I also include the stewardship of the truth we have received as well as the relationships with which we have been entrusted. In this discipline, we periodically review the ways we have been investing these assets.
Sacrifice is a more radical discipline than simplicity in that it involves the occasional risk of giving up something we would use to meet our needs rather than our wants. This is a faith-building exercise that commits us to entrust ourselves to God’s care.
Worship and Celebration
To worship is to be fully occupied with the attributes of God—the majesty, beauty, and goodness of His person, powers, and perfections. For the individual, worship often involves devotional reflection on the person and work of Jesus Christ as our mediator to the Father. In a corporate setting, believers are united together in heart and mind to honor and extol the infinite and personal God. The discipline of worship expands our concept of who God is and what He has done.
Celebration focuses on all that God has done on our behalf. It is the discipline of choosing gratitude rather than grumbling and remembrance rather than indifference. When we celebrate, we review and relive the history of God’s blessings, and this stimulates a renewed sense of devotion. Celebration, whether individual or corporate, is taking pleasure, amazement, and joy in how good God has been to us in specific ways and times. To revel in God’s goodness is to gain a new sense of perspective.
The discipline of service does not call attention to itself but to the needs and concerns of others. True service does not look for recognition but is borne out of love for Jesus and a desire to follow Him in “washing the feet” of the saints. In this discipline, we take on roles that are passed over and that do not call attention to ourselves; we steadfastly refuse to live for appearance and recognition, choosing instead to show kindness, courtesy, sensitivity, and concern for people who are often overlooked.
The reason many believers are not involved in evangelism is that they do not see it as a discipline that requires a corresponding lifestyle. To witness is to choose to go beyond our circle of believing friends and to walk dependently in the power of the Spirit as we invest in relationships with those who have not yet met Christ. The discipline of witness takes seriously the biblical mandate of bearing witness to Jesus by building non-manipulative relationships with eternity in view.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.
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