Today we are continuing our journey into learning how to live a life of worship. We will be introducing the spiritual disciplines today as patterns that we can infuse into our lives in order to acquire new “habits” that will re-direct our life of worship to its proper place: to God, and God alone.
Learning to live a life of worship takes practice, intentionality, and commitment. In a previous blog post, we talked about how easily we can fall into patterns of false-worship, often without being consciously aware that we are doing so. In order to combat these patterns, which are rooted in our very culture and society (even trends!), we must introduce different patterns into our lives that are designed to bring us into a life where we are living out our worship to God.
Just as the disciples were called to follow Jesus, we too become disciples of Jesus when we make the decision to follow him. Discipleship in the ancient world was specific and involved. When Jesus told Matthew, a sinner and a tax collector, to “follow me” he was asking for Matthew’s entire life. His time, his money, his career, his identity, his everything. “Following” your rabbi comes down to three basic tenants:
- Be with your Rabbi
- Become like your Rabbi
- Do what your Rabbi does
Our call is no different. As Christians, we too follow Jesus. This means that we are to be with Jesus, become like Jesus and do what Jesus did. We have to be willing to give him everything. It all begins with time, with being with Jesus. The more time we spend with Jesus the more we are transformed into his image and we become like him. Finally, we need to put that into action and do the things that Jesus did. If we don’t, can we really say that we are following him?
I loved this quote from Smith’s book, “You Are What You Love” about what discipleship looks like:
“Discipleship is a kind of immigration, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13). In Christ we are given a heavenly passport; in his body we learn how to live like “locals” of his kingdom. Such an immigration to a new kingdom isn’t just a matter of being teleported to a different realm; we need to be acclimated to a new way of life, learn a new language, acquire new habits – and unlearn habits of that rival dominion. Christian worship is our enculturation as citizens of heaven, subjects of kingdom come (Phil. 3:20).”
Read that quote again. Really. Let it sink into your mind and heart.
We live as citizens of heaven, but we are also still physically living within this world (the rival kingdom). All around us are the rival kingdom’s language, habits, customs, trends, values, and culture. In Christ, we are called out of that kingdom and into his glorious future kingdom, right now, in this present moment on this earth. In order to remain citizens of heaven, and not revert to our previous citizenship, we need a new way of life. We need to learn the language of Jesus, and acquire his habits, customs, trends, values, and culture.
God created us to be creatures of habit. As the creator, He also knows how formative those habits are on our lives. The more we engage in habitual activities the easier they become and the less we think about them. So, rather than allowing our present world, this rival kingdom, to give us habits and patterns that take us away from God, we should look to Jesus to learn the habits and patterns of God’s kingdom so that we may be his representatives (his ambassadors) in this rival kingdom.
We know these patterns and habits as the spiritual disciples. Dallas Willard describes the spiritual disciplines as conduits to the Spirit’s transforming grace. It is through the learning of and devotion to these practices that we become transformed into people who live a life of worship. These practices are a gift from God, designed to meet us right where we are in order to counter the patterns of the rival kingdom (all the other things that tug at our attention and devotion).
Perhaps you have tried to squeeze in a spiritual discipline or two in the past and have not been very successful. Maybe you have previously sensed that you need more of God in your life, but you aren’t sure how to go about doing such a thing. Or, it could be that you feel like a completely different person on Sunday mornings at church than you do on Monday mornings at work. I believe that the solution to these situations (and many others) is to completely wipe the slate clean, start from scratch, and re-pattern your life into a life that will lead you deeper into spiritual transformation and into a closer, more complete relationship with God. This re-ordering is done so that God exists at the center of everything we do, day in and day out. This is where adopting the habits of the spiritual disciplines comes in handy. If these practices form the core of your day-to-day life, everything else will revolve around them.
In the blog posts to come we will be focusing in on the following spiritual disciplines: Silence and Solitude, Sabbath, Bible Reading, Confession, and Prayer. Through these practices, we will learn more about what it looks like to live a life of worship. I once heard it said, “If you give God the time of your life, he will give you the time of your life.” It all begins with time. And it is time to start living your entire life in worship to the Almighty God.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may His most Holy Spirit work in you a transformation of your time and habits, that your life may become more aligned with the life of Christ. Remember that you are a child of God, and are no longer a child of the world. As such, you are called to a new life, with new habits, in a new kingdom. May we never cease learning how to be more like Jesus or grow weary of doing good. Amen.
 James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love (Grand Rapids, Brazos Press, 2016), 66
 Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines (San Francisco: Harper One, 1999).