The Goal of a Disciplined Life (7)
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…Hebrews 10.24
A team effort
The Scriptures are clear that following Jesus Christ requires a team effort. Like athletics or most vocations, we all work better, we all improve and practice our disciplines more consistently, when we’re working as part of a team. The many “one another” passages of the New Testament make this abundantly clear: love one another, bear one another’s burdens, pray for one another, teach and admonish one another, encourage one another, and so forth.
Simply put, discipleship requires companionship in the Lord. We need other believers to help us along the way in following Jesus, and this pertains to the disciplining of our bodies as well. We all need people in our lives to help us specifically with this high calling of bringing the members of our bodies into submission to Christ, so that we are able to do the good works for which He has redeemed us.
We all need people in our lives who know what we’re working on, what we’re struggling with, and what opportunities for doing good work daily arise for us, and who will celebrate God’s victories in and through us, as it pleases the Lord to use us in His service.
These are true friends, soul friends, not simply because soul friends enjoy one another’s presence or find each other interesting or funny, but because they want to succeed as followers of Christ. Soul friends pray for one another, encourage each other, share their triumphs and struggles, and help each other, however they may, to become true and consistent servants of the Lord.
Making relationships work
How do such relationships work?
Of course, they require time spent together, getting to know one another and sharing freely and honestly about our struggles and aspirations. Soul friends work hard to understand one another. They listen well and help one another think through their challenges, needs, hopes, and concerns. Soul friends will walk together in a common path of growth by reading books or studying Scripture together. Regular prayer together for one another will also be an aspect of such a relationship.
It can also be helpful in disciplining your body for good works for soul friends to pursue some ministry activity together – leading a Bible study, reaching out to lost friends or colleagues, or serving in some capacity at your church. In and through all the different aspects of their relationship, soul friends must invite and encourage free and open conversation about the Lord and His Kingdom.
Where to look
Celtic Christians are rightly appreciated for their widespread and faithful use of the discipline of anam cara, or, the soul friend. St. Brigid, an early 6thcentury Celtic leader, believed that everybody should have at least one such friend in their life. She said that “a man without a soul friend is like a body without a head.”
Our work at disciplining our bodies to serve Christ by true words and good works will proceed much more effectively if we have some friends who know what we’re seeking, share with us in the struggle, support us by their prayers and encouragement, and provide examples to whom we can look in our walk with the Lord.
So, where can we find a person to be such a soul friend?
If you’re married, your spouse is the place to start. Focusing together on your walk with and work for the Lord Jesus can provide a strong bond and foundation for building a lasting, loving marriage. Marriage is an especially rich setting for soul friendships because a husband and wife share so much of their lives and time together. The everyday activities of life provide rich opportunities for affirmation and encouragement, learning and doing together, and thinking through challenges and opportunities. In addition, married couples can share and teach together more frequently from their personal time with the Lord. Your spouse should be your most important soul friend, and together you should work hard to make the most of this divinely-provided opportunity.
Beyond that, you might need another person or two in your life to fulfill this high and holy calling. Look for someone with similar interests, someone who is as serious as you about leading a disciplined life. Make sure your prospective soul friend understands the commitment of time and devotion that will be required, and agree on some working protocol for growing in your relationship together (for more information on soul friends, download our free brochure by clicking here).
Just make sure that you keep your soul relationships above reproach and beyond suspicion. You don’t want your good works to be looked at or talked about by others as potentially a context for evil. It’s best, therefore, that such relationships involve men with men and women with women.
Get a soul friend – someone to watch over your soul in the Lord’s Name – and discover how such a relationship can improve and enliven your effort to lead a disciplined life in service to Christ.
1. Take a moment to reflect on the many “one another” commands in the New Testament. How many can you think of without having to look them up?
2. Why is it a good idea to have soul friends in your life?
3. What is your “one another” responsibility in helping a soul friendship to work?
Next steps – Preparation: Do you have a soul friend? Would you be willing to be a soul friend to another believer? Share this article with a few friends, and try to identify at least one of them for an ongoing soul-friendship.
T. M. Moore
Kingdom discipline begins in Kingdom vision, and that vision is centered on Jesus Christ exalted. Be Thou My Vision is a series of meditations on the glorious vision of Christ, based on Scripture and insights from Celtic Christians. Order your copy of Be Thou My Vision by clicking here.
This study, The Goal of a Disciplined Life, is part 1 of a 7-part series that supports the course, Introduction to Spiritual Theology at The Ailbe Seminary. To learn more about this free course,watch this brief video. Then enroll at the website and register for the course.
Our book, To Know Him, can help you develop a clear and focused vision of Jesus, exalted in glory. Order your copy by clicking here. Are you using your time as well as you should? Download our free tool, The Time of Your Life, and have a look at how you are using your time for God and His Kingdom (click here).
If you value ReVision as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.