Friday, April 21, 2006

Faith Helps: Discipline, Part 2

Against the extreme attention given to feelings in the popular culture, evangelicals, ourselves a people who value feelings, recognize that we must commit ourselves to things--beliefs, people, most importantly, God. Yes, we want to feel the truth. But we understand that this is not always possible. Sometimes you don't feel like reading the Bible. Sometimes you don't feel like going to church. Sometimes you don't feel like not gossipping. Sometimes you don't feel like not lusting. In all of these instances, your commitment to God must override your feelings. Otherwise, you will shipwreck your faith. In the debate over the role of feelings, the outcome is weighted, and determined heavily by your answer to this question.

Very often, I find that discipline carries me through the struggles of life. I love feelings as much as anyone, being a passionate person, but when I am tired and lazy, I need the strong voice of discipline to rouse me from sleep and get me into the Word. When I feel sin tug at my sleeve, I need something beside emotional excitement to shrug sin off. Discipline, considered the enemy by the popular culture, is actually one's closest friend in the Christian worldview. The Christian faith that lacks it misses out on its greatest help. Trying to be a steady disciple of Christ without any effort to be so damns one to a cycle of perpetual frustration. Up, down, down some more, then out of it for a bit, then down again. This is okay as a single person, but it's very tough on a family, and this attitude does not help one to instruct one's charges in the faith. Think of the picture of Christianity they acquire. They learn to see the faith as a constant battle one can never really win, albeit a battle punctuated by great highs and great lows. No wonder that people turn from the faith to relationships, drugs, and the like--they seek constancy anywhere they can find it. Of course, they also rebel against a harsh discipline, so that must be guarded against. You can do it--Christ certainly did, and Paul had a very strong walk with Christ that was hedged by discipline. He "beat his body" to discipline it for the purpose of godliness. That may seem a bit much. It will not, however, when the ship nears danger, and the rocks show themselves, and all around you, people crash for lack of preparation.


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