Disciplines of Discipleship
“… train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7–8
Not knowing yet who will win the elections today (March 6), I would not be surprised that the victory will go to the ones with the most frequent ads and phone calls. Persistent, continuous messaging works because we learn from repetition. Likewise, our bodies respond positively to continuous exercise and healthy food consumption over time. Our minds also improve with intellectual stimulation from reading and various mental exercises. However, if we are intermittent, starting and stopping frequently, inconsistent, and uncommitted to a routine, we find much less success in those areas. Scholars, teachers, athletes and trainers knows this.
Pastors know this too. In Faith School chapel, it’s easy to spot a child that comes from a family that has been consistent in teaching God’s Word. It is not only by what the child knows, but also by how he or she behaves. They are well-trained in godliness. There is also a positive relationship between adults’ maturity of faith and their consistency in study of God’s Word, prayer and worship. Aside from the spiritual growth that comes with consistent presence in God’s House, they also have stronger social bonds with other believers. Inconsistency is not a friend of social and spiritual growth any more than it is of physical or mental health.
The young Jew Daniel was an example of this, when he was in the den of lions. The next morning, the sympathetic king called out to him, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Ironically, while Daniel was in the lions’ den because of his continual and regular prayers, it was for the same reason that he could trust God to deliver him. Likewise, as Christ hung on the cross because of the charge that He claimed to be the Son of God, He was able, as the Son of God, to entrust His life to the God whose Son He is. Throughout His earthly life, he had been regular in worship and prayer.
If we would be His disciples, Jesus said that we should pick up our cross and follow Him. We cannot do that without consistently practicing the disciplines that come with discipleship: All of them are included each Sunday morning at your church. That’s an exercise that benefits not only for this life, but “also for the life to come”.