It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here. For both of you who read it, sorry! However, the church where I serve have kindly granted me a sabbatical, and I am going to use this as a place to process some of the things I’m reflecting on in my time away.
This morning I’ve been spending some time with Dallas Willard (on kindle, not in person). And he makes some very helpful observations about that well known tag, “What would Jesus do?”
Of course, it is an excellent question to ask in many ways. But in focusing on the moment of decision (“What would Jesus do in this situation?”) we potentially miss out on a much more important background – recognising that Jesus’ actions in the moment flow out of a lifestyle and series of disciplines. To focus on the decision or point of crisis alone is like trying to become a professional athlete by simply imitating the things they do whilst on the pitch/court – without also emulating the lifestyle of training, careful diet and so on which goes with that.
He puts it better:
The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.”
Obvious stuff? In some ways. But a helpful reminder for me this morning.
Of course we sometimes get a bit twitchy about ‘disciplines’ – as if by adopting them we are somehow capitulating to works instead of grace. But as the apostle James seemed to understand – grace/faith isn’t opposed to works. Instead we work out of our faith – though our works themselves are not meritorious.
As far as I can tell, The Spirit of the Disciplines is going to explore some of the ‘background training regime’ – how solitude, prayer, service etc. provide the context in which ‘doing the right thing’ becomes the easy and obvious thing (“my yoke is light”) – rather than the difficult thing.
I’m looking forward to reading and reflecting more on this.