**disclaimer- I understand anorexia is a condition/disease and struggle for many people. This post is not to belittle it or take it lightly. It is a simple comparison of the result of starved faith. Please read with the understanding that my comparison is not an exact one**
A while back, my young adult group- a 20 somethings community that I was involved- was looking into personal disciplines for our relationships with the LORD.
And I realized how I kind of get angry about this subject.
For weeks we discussed in detail the specific disciplines of prayer, study [the Bible, Christian books, etc.], meditation [not the kind done in yoga, et cetera but the idea of clearing the mind and infilling it with more of God while removing distractions], and fasting. Some of this disciplines I do regularly, the others I still do but can definitely improve on being more disciplined. The idea of going in depth into discussing these disciplines is to see how we can each grow in our relationship with God, and how in growing that relationship, it will inevitably affect the community around. Hence, inward to communal disciplines.
It has been great talking over these subjects, hearing from older pastors, people sharing their knowledge on specific disciplines…
…but tonight I got heated. I got mad actually. Not mad at anyone in particular but at the collective Church. I’m deeply sad for the Church. We waste so much time in programs and curriculums and trips, which yes are all great things, however they are not things that will likely bring the most personal change to each individual. Again, those things are good in context, but for the sake of what I am writing about tonight, some things get in the way. I got mad because I unsurprisingly hear so many pastors and church-goers complain about how they get nothing out of church, they are bored, they are struggling spiritually and don’t know why, or [fill in the blank of excuses].
Going over each of these disciplines taught me something pretty big yet so simple. Look at this way…
Let’s say you want to get in shape. At the new year, so many people set goals and “resolutions”, many often being about behavioral changes and weight loss. Great idea… but you’ll probably fail at it and this is why. You have a great idea but no game plan. The idea is great but you are lazy and say “I can do it later”. If you haven’t already started your New Years Resolution to lose weight… you probably won’t. And you won’t next year either. I don’t mean this to be harsh, but to make a point. If you want to lose, let’s say 40 pounds, a good first step is to 1) buy fitness programs or machines for home or 2) get a gym membership and 3) get accountability. Secondly, it might be good to buy gym clothes, sneakers, water bottles, weight gloves, etc. Spending money on gym equipment and accessories will be more of an incentive for you to actually do something about the problem you have or the goal you have desired. Heck, you can do all of that, but if you still only show up to the gym, and do nothing, you won’t get healthier. Period. It just won’t happen. Going to the gym won’t get you fit. You actually have to workout.
Your spiritual life is just like that. You can say you want to be a better Christian and, with all great intentions, still be a very lousy one. Until you actually create a lifestyle of discipline, you will not- I repeat- will not be a better Christ follower. Jesus Christ was incredibly disciplined. Whether you believe in him or not, it is undeniable that the story of Jesus is one dripping with love, discipline, and matching of lifestyle and beliefs. As a Christ follower, wanting to love him is not enough. Actions are proof of your love. Wanting to have a heart like Christ is not enough. You won’t suddenly love people one day. It just won’t happen. You won’t suddenly be knowledgable of the Bible. You won’t, unless by pure miracle sake, be free of an addiction like drugs or pornography. Your marriage will continue you to fail, your relationships will continue to crumble, your self-gratifying behaviors will still only satisfy temporarily. You’ll be nowhere.
Discipline, I believe, is one of the very things lacking in our churches today. We are an anorexic church because we are anorexic , starved believers that want to change but refuse to put in the work. We are believers that wonder why we are just as broken as people outside of Christ and the Church, because we only got saved and then did nothing else. We are so spiritually starved because, rather than praying for change and believe He is able, we just settle and compromise and give up. We are spiritually slowly dying if we refuse to invite God to be a part of our marriages, our families, our churches, communities through prayer and study of His word. We want to be the kind of Christian that is a Billy Graham or some other big shot of the Christian faith, yet we wonder why we can’t get over our personal sin and struggles.
Discipline is the answer. Discipline is what makes you stronger. It is what gives you power, strength, diligence, resilience, perseverance, humility and courage to be the kind of Christ follower that actually looks like Christ. That means investing time without distraction in reading the Bible, in studying it-through commentaries, books, and other tools, in turning OFF the phones, computers, tablets, and just being in the silence of the heart and mind and talking and listening to God. It means investing in sacrifices like fasting…that may mean for you to fast food entirely, partially, or some other variation, or in the more common broader term, sacrificing something else [a desire, need or want] for the sake of pursuing God more [i.e. not going on Facebook or social media for extended amount of time]. We need to stop starving ourselves of the presence and Word of God and start hungering after Him.
Why is that we can be so willing to watch Netflix for hours (guilty) yet we can’t study the Bible the same? Why is that we quickly remember lyrics and movie quotes without a second thought yet when it comes to recalling the Bible and what God’s Word truly says, we draw a blank? I see a big disconnect with us- the collective Church- and our pursuit of God. We are missing something and I believe it is discipline. If you want to grow in the LORD more you need to make the change. Stop being a lazy, compromising, or stubborn Christian and pursue God. Yes it takes work. Yes it is about discipling yourself, but just like working out and exercising to be healthy, the results are worth the effort. And you only get out of it what you put in. Instead of being spiritually anorexic, why not be spiritual fit and healthy? No more excuses. No more pity party. No more waiting. No more reasons why not. You can make the change starting now. This world has far too many hypocrites, Pharisees, and undisciplined, apathetic, lazy Christians. Be someone who wants to be an imitator of Paul, who imitated Jesus. Be someone who desires to bring the Gospel- the Great Commission- to the world, even if it that means for you just going across the street. Be someone who, in light of what is going on in this world, can reveal the redemptive love of Jesus Christ because He is who brings the transformation. Our job is to pursue Him and be holy as He is holy.