Thoughts on Walking With God, Part 3
Sorry, folks. Slept in a bit today and then had a few parenting (re: taxi service) responsibilites so I’m a little late opening The Diner today. For those of you late to the game, as you can tell by the “part 3” in the title, we’ve been discussing the sessions from the winter Bible conference regarding the walk with God, with Dr. John Hannah (he’s a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary). We’ve been doing this for the last couple of days, so maybe you’ll want to read some of the other entries to get caught up. Also, you might want to go to the CBC website and listen to the archived webcasts…which is what I know several folks are doing.
On with the stuff that got me from the first 30 minutes of session #2:
“How do you walk with God without a bunch of rules that none of us really meet but we lie to each other about them?” The initial question is one the speaker’s been working through answering, but I found it interesting that he noted that believers “lie to each other” about them. What’s scary is that he’s right. I think this is why transparency is so dangerous in our circles, because if we admit we struggle with our walk with God–we open ourselves up to possible judgment or condescension. The beauty is that, like Mike Yaconelli said, “Once we stop pretending, we expose the pretentiousness of others.”
“When God looks at your thought life, when God looks at your actions, when God looks at your family, does He see Himself?…What does He desire to see? The nine (single) fruit of the Spirit.” I’ve always thought that mentioning that “fruit” is singular in the Greek was undertaught. They’re all bundled together rather than being able to check off in a linear way. Like being able to say you were living out 7 of the 9 or whatever. Nope. It’s either fruit or it isn’t. It’s not “kind of” fruit.
And, frankly, it’s disconcerting that Dr. Hannah mentioned those particular areas about when illustrating the point he wanted to illustrate. And, even more frankly, I’m not sure I like the answers I’d be able to honestly give. It’s at that point I wish I could count “kinda fruit.” But it’s certainly a worthwhile discussion about how we can go about arranging our thought life, our actions, our relationships in such a way that we glorify Him.
“A legalist is not a person who has rules. That is a wise person. A legalist is a person who believes that those wise rules curry favor with God.”…I can never make him love me more. Those that come from legalist traditions of the faith never understand the grace positions on the walk of faith, usually throwing around straw-man arguments that claim we fail to teach on holiness or that we teach “cheap grace” (I even hear a pastor once say that Scripture never says we can “slide into heaven on greasy grace.” Well, he’s right, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to refer to the finished work of Christ on the cross as “greasy grace.” Usually, this comes from people who get irritated that others in the faith aren’t denying themselves of enough fun).
And this leads me to a discussion on the place of habits in the life of the believer. Like many of you, I’ve tried all sorts of things, from waking up early to extensive journaling to prayer walks and all that stuff…with varying degrees of “success” in all of them an plenty of “failure” in all of them. Ultimately, what I’ve come to is that habits or disciplines or whatever else you want to call them all result in freedom. That’s right. Structure and discipline actually develop creativity and enhance freedom.
For example, if I discipline myself to go to the gym, and make wise choices with food, at first, it’s irritating and annoying. Over time, however, I begin to feel better throughout the day. The energy level picks up, too, and after about a week you’re not nodding off when you’re reading after lunch. Then after a month, you now have better brain activity for an hour more per day, or four per month, or almost 50 per year to use in more creative fashion than just answering e-mails and returning phone calls in the early afternoon.
It works much the same way in a spiritual sense. Those habits you develop will actually not become a drudgery but I’ve found they allow you to experience the “fruit” in a more natural way…which feeds into a more abundant life. I’ll expand on these thoughts tomorrow on precisely how that works in my experience.
“If you want to know how you are doing spiritually, here is a simple litmus test: When you are not thinking about what you are thinking about, ask yourself what you are thinking about. What are your involuntary thoughts? When you’re not guarded–half our our piety is because we’re afraid that somebody might see what we’re thinking–when we’re not guarding out thought life, what comes into our minds?
Ever analyzed what you’re thinking when you’re not thinking about anything? I’m not sure there is a better litmus test, though. And that statement about how our piety is driven by the judgment of others?
You could chew on that all day.
And, getting us ready for a practical discussion on “vivification” tomorrow, Dr. Hannah asked:
“What kinds of things can you and I do to promote a healthy life of reflecting the character of God…
Well, have at it, patrons! It’s a shame this topic fell on Saturday, when business is off about 40%. Maybe the Monday morning crowd (which is actually the highest traffic day) will help us out, too, as they play catch-up.