Life and living deteriorate.
We don’t live in a place or space where we increasingly become stronger. We live in a world where each of us are in a process from birth, to growth, to maturation, to recession and to death. In our newness as infants, we begin a trek to maturity. Once maturity is reached, we begin the slow process of recession. That recession leads to our departure from this earth.
The Bible keeps this process of birth to death central in our understanding of Christ. God speaks to this, He speaks to life’s purpose aside from simply being born and then dying.
And wouldn’t it be great if life was only that? Being born, growing up, maturing, receding, passing away, it’s all complicated isn’t it?
In the midst of this process we have blessed joy, searing pain, generosity and benevolence, adversity and struggle, heartbreaking disease and lives cut short, abuse and malice. These things cause us to question life itself. “What’s the point?”, “Why am I here?”, “What does this all mean?”, “Where’d we come from? Where are we going?” These questions are asked and answered by each person who lives and thinks.
The potential answers to these questions cause us to feel, at our core, that we need a detour from the road that takes us all. We need more time to ponder existence, to enjoy our loves, to makes sense of pain and discover ways to overcome.
As the minutes collapse into hours, then days and months, we can in no way interrupt this process to our inevitable end. However, Christians believe in a God that can and does. In Christ, we are “new creations”. In Christ we “put off our old selves” and “put on our new selves”. Through faith in Jesus our deaths are sealed and hidden with Christ while our lives are joined with His eternal life.
The Christian faith presents life as an opportunity to know the Creator God of the universe. How do we know Him? First, believe in God. Start there. Then, seek Him. Seek him in prayer, silence, solitude, fasting, meditation, service, worship, study, celebration or confession. God has left us these paths to seek Him, to know Him and the blessed hope to be more like Him. These spiritual paths, or disciplines, are ancient ways to discover and connect with God.
The idea of “Spiritual Disciplines” are a construct of the 20th Century. These practices, once understood as integral to the ancient Christian life have been so lost that we must have books and seminars to resurrect these pathways to the Christ we worship.
Of course, these disciplines are consistently under assault. Constant noise, being “plugged in”, interrupts our silence. Executing our own will eliminates the need for prayer. Denial and justification shout louder than confession. The purpose of these practices are so that we dissolve and Christ comes alive in us. These intentional practices bring forth Christ and welcomes our own self denial “the death of ourselves” as Christ becomes more and we become less.