Silence. Solitude. Meditation. Fasting. Simplicity.
These are as strange and alien concepts to the life of Christians in the West. At best such practices feel odd, optional or only for super-Christians. Or worse, they could be construed as punitive.
However our historic Christian faith grew in grace and power as everyday believers and leaders practiced spiritual disciplines. On purpose. With astonishing results.
Check Out Spiritual Disciplines
When I started in ministry as a 23-year-old Jr Hi Pastor just off the road with a Christian band, voice mail and pagers were cutting edge. We communicated only via phone and paper. As a church planter, we have social media, mobile phones and the internet that invades every spare corner of our lives.
My first boss in ministry encouraged me to read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and made me go on monthly prayer retreats. I did not like it at first. Now as a church planter, I am so glad someone showed me how and why spiritual disciplines are vital for ministry. It was not easy for me to do.
It showed me ministry is impossible to do. For me. I need Jesus to do it through me. In fact, Jesus said in John 14:12-14 that we would do greater works than He did. By asking Him to do what He can do through us.
Disciplines are inconvenient, frustrating and seem counter-productive. But we managed to get ministry accomplished before cell phones, iPads and Wi-Fi. Apparently, even Jesus and the church ministered pretty well focusing on prayer, discipleship and a simple life.
It leads to this leading question: what kind of boundaries (if any) do you have now between the urgency of everything on your phone or tablet or laptop and your relationship with Christ? I fear our little space for Jesus makes me/us a mile wide and an inch deep. I’ll even say it may make us hypocrites on par with Pharisees.
Expect More of Less to be Normal?
A pastor friend of mine recently posted the following:
(Name) is going off the grid for a week for a silent retreat. Yup. No cell, not FB, no Angry Birds, no TV to numb or distract me. No agenda, not planning, no strategizing- just a whole week to meet with Jesus. I’ll either go completely crazy or meet Jesus. We’ll see.
I applaud his decision! And I say more of less! More of less should be normal. And not drive you crazy.