Practices | Discipleship at 1st Pres
Being transformed together into the image of Jesus for the sake of others.
A maturing disciple is someone who has said “yes” to God’s love in Jesus Christ and has become an apprentice of Jesus. Our apprenticeship is a lifelong journey of transformation to become like Jesus through the Spirit, growing to love the Triune God above all else and loving others and creation as Jesus does.
Discipleship involves the totality of life: all of our choices, attitudes, actions, thoughts, and habits. While discipleship cannot be limited to a program, there are ways that we can order our lives together and individually that will create room for the Holy Spirit to transform us. We are calling these the “building blocks” of discipleship.
One of these building blocks is PRACTICES. Practices can also be called spiritual disciplines or habits. Practices help us open our lives to the Holy Spirit’s work of transforming us into the image of Jesus.
A good image to describe practices is a sail boat. A sail boat cannot move on its own. It is the wind that moves a boat. But the sails must be up in order to catch the wind. In the same way, we cannot transform ourselves. The Holy Spirit transforms us. Yet we have a part to play: we hoist our sails. Practices are ways in which we “hoist our sails” and allow room for the Spirit to transform us. What the image of the sail boat does not capture is that as we engage with the Lord, we are not only moved, we are also changed and strengthened. As we hoist our sails through practices and the Spirit moves us, new sails are formed so that we become a strong ship, able by God’s goodness to respond readily to His love and share His love with others.
To be very clear: practices are not ways in which we get God to listen to us, earn God’s favor, or in any way try to be in control of our own spiritual growth. Practices are offered to God with no strings attached. We make no demands on God and place no expectations or conditions around the practice. We simply offer the practice to God for God to use. We are not, through the practice, transforming ourselves by our own power. Through the practice we are offering ourselves to God to let God transform us by the Holy Spirit’s power. This means, if you don’t “feel” anything while you practice that is okay, even normal (especially when it’s new!). No matter what we feel, we can trust that God will be the one to do good work in and through us.
A practice-based life can be as simple as setting aside regular time to pray, confess, read Scripture, take care of our bodies, and rest. It can also involve scheduling and nourishing the relationships God has given us. It may involve examining how we view and use our time and resources. Our practices can also change at different seasons in our lives. Whatever the practices, it is important that they become habits. As they become habits, it will become our nature to live life in and through Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit. As a way to help us engage in practices as individuals and a whole church we will be focusing on one practice for 2-3 months at a time as a church.
Our next practice is PRAYER. Tools for practicing prayer can be found in our 2018 fall booklet.