Grace Is Not Opposed To Effort
But it is to earning…
Some people would say I am a disciplined person. I wake up between 4-5am most days, workout 4-5 times a week, and usually get in about an hour every day of time with Jesus.
But eww. Discipline.
So many people respond to me with either a quizzical look, anxiety or just straight up anger (mostly the hardcore grace means God does #AllTheThings people).
Just imagine having a heated argument with someone that is so full of grace.
I understand why people might come from these perspectives, though. I mean, discipline sounds like serious work. But most of all, it sounds like LOVELESS work.
I absolutely could not disagree more.
Here’s why; Discipline allows us to achieve something we could not otherwise do by direct effort.
Example: Getting stronger does not happen by sitting and thinking about getting stronger. Or a better, but silly way of saying this is: you don’t get stronger by getting stronger. You actually get stronger through continued resistance against you skeletal muscle + rest and nutrition.
You do not become like Jesus by becoming like Jesus. “Becoming like Jesus” is not a definitive action and therefore impossible to pursue. In this case, SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE. Which I believe, is engaging in spiritual disciplines.
But here’s the deal. This is not a loveless pursuit. It can be hard; indeed, almost to the point of bearing a cross…or something somebody once said.
Every single aspect of the spiritual disciplines is highly relational. Would you say Jesus was disciplined? Most would probably not say that at first. But if we take a closer look at his life, we realize he was highly disciplined.
40 days of fasting? Resisting the devil in the middle of the wilderness? Waking up before the sun to pray? Walking miles and miles to share the gospel of the kingdom? Sleeping outdoors at times to do that? Doing ministry until all hours of the night? Leaving crowds when they begged him to stay or tried to make him king by force? Prayed until blood came down his brow from stress, then did the thing that drove him to that desperate prayer anyway?
Now, these are the acts of a disciplined person.
Many would call this obsession before they would call it discipline. But isn’t extreme discipline the same?
Jesus was all about and only about what the Father was doing; the one whom he loved and is completely one with. His discipline came from the directive of his loving Father and Holy Spirit.
Yes, discipline “sounds” loveless. But if you get OBSESSED with who Jesus is, and pursue him, discipline will become a matter of course.
After all, the root word of disciple…is discipline. I believe this word needs a revival in and of itself.
What if we as Christ followers had a real plan that followed in the footsteps of Jesus to become like him?
After all, no great thing has ever been done accidentally.
Let’s stop trying to become more like Jesus by becoming more like Jesus. That is an ungraspable project for 1000 reasons, one being that this is an unending project.
But let’s lay aside real time, real effort, and allow the grace of God by his Holy Spirit to transform us into a people that look, feel, act, and live life as a whole like Jesus.
Yes, he is our model for everything. So let’s partner in love with the Holy Spirit to live this new life in the Kingdom of the Heaven’s.
For some more answers on what these Disciplines are, check out this Book