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Renew, Reorient, Retrain

Have you ever considered how you came to love what you love? Think about it. Your life is filled with love for people, places, and practices. In his book, You Are What You Love, James K. A. Smith says that "love is a habit" (p. 32). He argues that we love what we have practiced loving.

By way of example, I love to run, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, I don't believe I ran a mile before I was 25.  Now, I run 5x per week, so why the change? Smith would argue that new habits formed new loves. One day, I ran 1/4 mile. The next day 1/2 mile. The next day 3/4, and so on. Here's the thing, most of this was miserable. But eventually, a new habit was formed and I could see and feel the changes this new habit had on my life. I developed a love for running through the discipline of running.

Think about the amazing application to the Christian life (especially our times of corporate worship). Disciplines give birth to habits, which give birth to loves. Smith continues,

"The church - the body of Christ - is the place where God invites us to renew our loves, reorient our desires, and retrain our appetites. Indeed, isn't the church where we are nourished by the Word, where we 'eat the Word' and receive the bread of life? The church is that household where the Spirit feeds us what we need and where, by his grace, we become a people who desire him above all else. Christian worshipis the feast where we acquire new hungers - for God and for what God desires - and are then sent into his creation to act accordingly" (p. 65).

When you attend our worship services on the weekend, let me encourage you to come expecting God to renew, reorient, and retrain you. It is in this setting, when we're gathered, that God feeds us, comforts us, reminds us of his promises, gives grace, and sends us out on mission. But, what if you and I don't "feel like it (singing, praying, etc)" today? Then what?

When you don't feel like engaging, engage. When you don't feel like singing, sing. Why? Because God is more pleased with you? Never. Engage and sing even if, and especially when you don't feel like it, because God uses these means to create new loves. You just might find, in short time, that God used the discipline to create and awaken new desire.

Deliberate Spiritual Good

Disciples make disciples. This is what it means to be a Christian living under the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). But, if we’re honest, isn’t discipleship intimidating? Isn’t discipleship the elephant in the room that we know we should be eating one bite at a time. Mixed metaphor, I know.

Why is discipleship so difficult for us? Maybe we’ve never been discipled well. Maybe we’re afraid to be the know-it-all. Or, maybe we have an underdeveloped definition of discipleship. What if discipleship was less about being a spiritual guru and more about being a spiritual guide? Mark Dever, in his book Discipling, writes, “discipling is deliberately doing spiritual good to someone so that he or she will be more like Christ.”

That’s it: doing deliberate spiritual good. Certainly, we can make discipleship more complicated than that, but in its essence we can sum up discipleship by considering Colossians 1:28-29:

“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

We simply proclaim, warn, and teach with the Last Day in full view. The goal of our discipleship is to present everyone mature in Christ. So, now what? Dever says it well,

“A disciple is one who disciples. He proclaims now so that he might present later. So name a couple people in your life whom you would love to see presented mature and godly on the Last Day. Got their names in mind? Now, how are you proclaiming the gospel to them now to prepare them for then?”

Pick a name. Pray for that person. Now get after it; go do that person deliberate spiritual good with every bit of energy that God is powerfully working in you. And one day, by the grace of God, present that person mature in Christ to the glory of God.