Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Does Practice Make Perfect?
Spiritual practices (or disciplines) can be viewed as a way to spend time with someone we love. Practices can also be viewed as a way to rest in God and embrace the fact that God created us and redeemed us. We don’t do the work of creation and redemption, and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11) through various forms of prayer, Bible study or other spiritual practices can help us live into the reality that God is our creator and redeemer.They can, but they can also becomes an idol unto themselves. Like everything else in our journey with Christ - a balance and a tension exists. We must balance the pursuit of spiritual practice with our sinful desire to take charge. Sometimes we really do need to let God do it.
Spiritual practices can also be viewed as a way that we participate in God’s transformation of us, an affirmation of both Romans 12:1-2 (where Paul exhorts us to be transformed) and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (where Paul affirms that we are being transformed into Jesus’ image through the work of the Holy Spirit).
I was a teenager in the 1960s, when “if it feels good, do it” was my generation’s mantra. Being authentic in our feelings, and then acting on them, was raised to a high art. Elizabeth Goudge’s idea that God wants us to build our lives from the outside in, rooted in her experience of the two World Wars, stands in stark contrast to my generation’s ethos. Is it sometimes true that God calls us to act in the way we want to become? Can spiritual practices play a role in that action?
It is vitally important that we know ourselves as we approach something like this, for it is only in self knowledge that we can find the right balance and equilibrate the tensions.
Sometimes practice makes perfect and sometimes, practice becomes the end in itself.