Foundations of Discipline (1)
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of ourfaith… Hebrews 12.1, 2
Discipline and worldview
The disciplined life is simply the way we organize our time to carry out the demands and achieve the goals of our worldview.
Everyone has a worldview, a basic way of understanding the world and getting around in it. All worldviews take shape around three facets, which work together like the legs of a triangle to give dimension and stability to the worldview as a whole. By understanding our Christian worldview in this manner, we can see why it is especially important that we give ourselves to disciplining our bodies to follow Jesus.
Let’s look briefly at the three facets of a worldview and the place of disciplines within that framework.
The first parameter of every worldview – the first leg of the triangle – is the vision of the good life to be attained. This constitutes a vast realm of unseen things – unseen because they always remain hoped-for and not yet realized.
Everyone embraces some commanding vision of life – what it should be, what they should aspire to, what will make them happy. This vision functions like the glow beyond the horizon to guide our steps day by day in the direction of what we believe to be the good life.
For most people this is a mixed vision and not at all clear. This includes most Christians. Disciple-making for worldview living requires that we train believers to see more clearly the beauty of the Christian life in all its promise and fullness. The Christian’s vision of the good life is, in a word, Jesus – Jesus Christ: exalted in glory and filling all things, advancing His Kingdom, building His Church, dispensing and deepening His great salvation, and saving and sanctifying His people to follow Him as citizens and ambassadors of His Kingdom. This is the Christian vision of life at its best.
The second facet of a worldview – the second leg of the triangle – consists of the disciplines by which we pursue our vision of the good life. The clearer and more compelling our vision, the more consistent and diligent we will be in taking up the disciplines that will help us move in the direction of that vision.
Disciplines embrace every area of our lives and every moment of time. But that can be good or bad, depending on the nature and quality of our disciplines and the extent to which we are clear and conscientious in practicing them. The goal is to take up those disciplines – and only those disciplines – that will keep us moving toward our vision of life as it ought to be.
Here there is no shortage of voices and advisers counseling us one way or another – teachers, pundits, advertisers, politicians, investment advisers, etc., etc. One may lead a very disciplined life, active and always engaged in this, that, or the other. But this activity will not yield the good life unless it is the kind of activity specifically designed to achieve that end – unless there is a direct connection between the disciplines we embrace and the vision we seek.
And if we desire to attain to the Christian vision of life, then we must embrace distinctly Christian and Biblical disciplines for every area of our lives.
The fruit of our seeking
The final leg of our worldview triangle is the outcomes people realize. The character of this facet will be determined by the interface of the first two. The disciplined pursuit of what people envision as the good life will always bear certain fruit in their lives. The outcomes we seek in the Christian life are those expressive of our vision, which is of Christ and His Kingdom. Love for God and neighbor are the defining outcomes of the Christian worldview.
Every worldview consists of a vision of things unseen, which is pursued through a raft of disciplines, and which results in certain outcomes or fruit in this life – the evidence of progress in our pursuit. In many ways, as Jesus noted, we may discern a person’s worldview by looking at the fruit of his life (Matt. 7.20). The Christian worldview, rightly envisioned and pursued, should yield the fruit of Kingdom living in those who embrace it. But this will only be so as believers are equipped with the vision and disciplines such fruit requires.
Vision fuels disciplines, and disciplines pursue vision. The clearer and more compelling our vision, the more careful, diligent, and consistent we will be in embracing only those disciplines that will move us toward that vision. And the harder we work at the disciplined life, in every aspect and moment of our lives, the more we can expect to see Kingdom outcomes consistent with our vision of Christ and Him exalted.
Next steps: Meditate on Ephesians 5.15-17. Can you say that you are using all the time God gives you each day in a disciplined pursuit of Christ and His Kingdom? If not, what disciplines are taking up your time that need to be reviewed and perhaps replaced? Talk with a Christian leader or pastor about these questions.
T. M. Moore
A rightly-disciplined life requires a Kingdom vision, and that vision is centered on Jesus Christ exalted. T. M. has prepared a series of meditations on the glorious vision of Christ, based on Scripture and insights from the Celtic Christian tradition. Order your copy of Be Thou My Vision by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.