i don’t remember the exact phraseology he used, but he said essentially that protestant churches sorely lack discipline in faith.
i would alter this slightly to say we protestants often lack the ritual discipline of faith.
it’s something i’d like to reclaim.
it’s something i’m wary of, having been raised southern baptist, but something i’m also drawn by, because of my catholic heritage. and ultimately it’s something i think we need to incorporate along with our banners of freedom in Christ.
let me be clear. i absolutely believe we should be encouraging and empowering ourselves and each other to walk fearlessly and faithfully in freedom. but i think too often we take it to an extreme and think it means we’re free to not set routines when we need them.
we’re creatures of habit, we humans, and the habits we set are the way we live our entire lives.
so if we say we love Jesus, how does it show?
i’m not saying it will show if you go to church every sunday without fail, because i don’t think it will. i don’t see any point in being legalistic about any routine we incorporate into our faith practices. Jesus did not come to set us free so we could bind ourselves to a lesser god.
but instead, i think we need to identify disciplines that are crucial and integrate them as a regular part of our living.
one thing i really like about our church is we take communion the first sunday of every month.
now when i was a child, i thought four times as a year, as the church i grew up in did, was excessive. i could see doing it once a year on the anniversary of the last supper. and when i initially began attending the church i now go to, in my mid-teens, i thought once a month was way over the top.
but it isn’t.
instead it’s a monthly reminder to confess. i don’t believe in confession as a formalized practice, but i do believe we’re to confess our sins before the Lord. it’s not something i often remember to do, but i’m working on being more open with God. after all, He knows it all anyway.
it’s also a monthly reminder to reflect. how often do we let the impression of what Christ did at calvary just weigh on us, press on us, compel us to thankfulness? myself: not often. i appreciate the regularity of being reminded to do so when i might not think of it on my own.
what’s a spiritual discipline for which you appreciate a more formalized approach? do you find it gives you space in which to approach the throne in prayer and worship?