Christian Worldview: Disciplines

The vision we love, we must work to achieve.

Foundations for a Christian Worldview: First Things (6)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. 
 Proverbs 3.5, 6

What we love
The Biblical worldview is grounded in a vision of unseen spiritual realities, beginning in God and the various ways God has, in time, revealed Himself and His will. God is revealed to us most clearly in Jesus Christ (Heb. 1.3; Jn. 14.9), Who is now exalted in glory and seated at the right hand of the Father. From there, by His Word and Spirit, King Jesus administers the divine economy and advances His rule on earth as it is in heaven. 

On the left leg of our worldview triangle, the various unseen and yet-to-be-realized components of our life in Christ line up for the purpose of advancing His rule and glorifying the Father. Above all, we would see Jesus, exalted in glory (Col. 3.1-3). Jesus commands us to see and seek His Kingdom (Matt. 6.33). This we do from within His Body, the Church (Matt. 16.18; 1 Cor. 12.7-11; Eph. 4.11-16), where we learn to lay hold on all the broad scope of our great salvation, and to identify and take up our individual calling and legacy (Jn. 20.21; Ps. 45.17). And we must understand the times in which we live if we would know what to do for Christ and His Kingdom (1 Chron. 12.32) to redeem our times for His glory.

Each of these aspects of our Christian worldview vision exists as both an unseen ideal and an unfolding reality. The clearer our vision of these entities, the more we will comprehend their beauty and fitness for our lives, and the more we will desire and pursue them.

For our Christian worldview vision must focus on those things we are created for and called to love above all: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; His coming Kingdom and the people who populate it; the gift of salvation and the calling to serve; and the world of our own times, which God loves so much that He gave His Son for its redemption (Jn. 3.16).

The good life unfolds toward these unseen realities, which we hope to make real, tangible, and actual in our daily lives. Yet always there is more to learn and more to love of this glorious life and vision which God has created for us. We who would realize this vision must study to learn it, meditate to love it, and devote all our energies to achieving it more fully day by day.

This brings us to the matter of time and how we use our time in pursuit of Christ, His Kingdom, and our calling as His people.

The life of discipline
The Christian receives the time of his life as a gift from God, and he resolves to use that time, acknowledging and serving God in all his ways, so that he may express the wisdom of God and live for His glory in even the smallest, most everyday aspects of his life (Eph. 5.15-17; 1 Cor. 10.31).

What do we do in the time of our lives? We seek the Lord; participate in a variety of relationships; do our work (and not just our job); contribute to the health and growth of the Lord’s Church; and stand our ground in the spiritual warfare. In each of these areas of life – all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities – we hope to realize the vision of righteousness, peace, joy, goodness, beauty, truth, power, and blessing which beckons us as the vision of Christian life, life in which God is acknowledged, served, known, loved, enjoyed, and glorified in all our ways. 

Achieving this vision requires a disciplined approach to seeking the Lord and discovering His will. The right leg of our triangle organizes the different kinds of discipline by which we devote all our ways to the Lord and redeem the time He gives us each day. We’re using the term discipline in a broad and edifying way – like an athlete in training and competition, rather than in a narrow and punitive way – to define what we actually do in the time of our lives to make progress toward our vision of the good and true life.

The disciplined life begins in the soul, which we seek to improve in knowing and loving God through such disciplines as worship, prayer, and the reading and study of Scripture. The various relationshipsin which we engage – as parent, spouse, friend, colleague, or neighbor – also require us to master certain ways of loving others that reflect how we want to be loved ourselves. All the workwe do each day requires skills, knowledge, expertise, consistency, and diligence, all of which must be learned and mastered as daily disciplines in this particular arena of our time. As Christians we are part of a larger family of the community of believers, and this requires us to learn and practice those disciplines – worship, fellowship, collaboration, and so forth – that make for strong communities. And we must also be ready to engage those disciplines that will keep us on top in the spiritual warfare. These include recognizing and resisting temptation, giving thanks in all things, trusting the Lord in times of trial, and bearing one another’s burdens.

The Word of God, beginning in His Law, speaks abundantly to all these areas, that we might be equipped for every good work in all our ways (2 Tim. 3.15-17).

Time for discipline
All the time of life – all our ways – must be daily devoted to the Lord, taken in hand, and used so that we redeem the time for achieving the vision of what we love. We must pay attention to our time, plan it well, work it diligently, and review our use of it, so that we may offer our time back to the Lord confidently and joyfully (cf. Ps. 90.12, 16, 17; Prov. 4.20-27).

The Christian vision – Christ and His Kingdom unfolding as our great salvation and calling in life – is what we love, but we will have to work hard to achieve it. The entire current of our times flows against us. Together we are rowing upstream against the rushing waters of secularism, naturalism, narcissism, materialism, and sensualism. Making progress can seem an impossible task, but we have strength beyond our own strength to empower and sustain us (Phil. 2.13; Eph. 3.20). If we think we can coast in this flood (Rev. 12.13-15), trying merely to keep afloat in our faith and enjoy whatever cheap thrills we may encounter along the way, we deceive ourselves. A great cataclysm awaits all those who merely go with the flow of our age in flight from God, rather than strive to overcome it (Rom. 1.18-32). If we do not apply ourselves with all diligence in all our ways, the vision of Christ and His Kingdom will recede ever further away, and our love for that vision will grow increasingly cold. We will comfort ourselves that we have believed in Jesus, and hope that we can just hold on until He returns. But unless we embrace His calling to self-denying, sacrificial good works and good words, we will be sorely disappointed when we stand before Him (Jn. 20.21; Phil. 2.5-11). 

As followers of Christ, our lives are not our own. We have been bought with the high price of Jesus’ blood and righteousness (1 Cor. 6.19, 20), and we owe all that we are and have, and all the time of our lives, to Him. Let us resolve to focus continuously on Christ and His Kingdom, and to strive and struggle and strain to make progress toward that glorious vision at every moment, in every situation, in all our ways, with all our soul and strength.

Questions for reflection
1. What is your approach to making the most of the time God gives you each day? Can you see any ways you might improve in this?

2. We should not think of discipline as punitive, merely. Discipline is what disciples embrace so that they can acknowledge and follow the Lord in all their ways. How would you explain the benefits of a disciplined life to a new believer?

3. We mentioned several areas of life where disciplines are required. In which of these do you most need to improve?

Next steps – Preparation: Meditate on Psalm 90.12, 16, 17. As you meditate, make notes about areas of discipline where you would like to improve. Lay out a plan for improvement, and begin working it right away.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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