Introduction to the Spiritual Disciplines The Christian walk is filled with tension. In many ways a believer is pulled in different directions. An obvious contrast would be the tension between the flesh and the spirit, between sinful acts and holy living. The Christian is constantly battling this tension of choosing to walk in the Spirit while not giving into the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5). In these types of tensions, the Christian is supposed to be completely imbalanced by leaning more towards the side of Christ-like living and not reverting back to sinful behavior.
There are other tensions in scripture where the Christian is supposed to seek a more balanced position. The topic we will discuss is the tension between a person’s role and God’s role in the in making us more like Christ, which is called sanctification. An imbalanced view on this would be that we do all the work or that God does all the work. Instead, the biblical balance is that the spiritual life is both human and divine. On the human side, we are responsible to work out, not work for, our salvation. On the divine side, God gives us the desire and empowerment to accomplish his purposes.
Finding a proper balance is important in thinking and living out this tension of human and divine activity, especially when it comes to the topic of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are things that we do in order to become more like Christ, such as bible reading, praying, fasting, etc. The disciplines focus mostly on the human side of this tension. However, it is not intended to ignore the divine. The disciplines that will be discussed in this series are not to be seen as ends in themselves or supernatural means. Instead, they should be thought of as practical steps in response to divine grace. Because God loves us and invites us into a relationship with him personally, we respond by seeking him through the means of spiritual disciplines.
You might find it fascinating to discover as we go through these disciplines that Jesus himself practiced the very things that we are encouraged to do in our pursuit of God. For Jesus, these were means of fellowship and intimacy with the Father, and we are invited to do the same. As disciples of Jesus, let’s follow his example and engage in these disciplines while maintaining balance of human effort and divine initiative.