Like clay in molded in the hands of a potter, God will mold us to his image and to the shape and form gives us our greatest fulfillment. If we “center ourselves on the wheel” he will do his part. (Earley Video) Centering ourselves on his potter’s wheel is the practicing of the spiritual disciplines he has provided for the molding of our lives and souls.
We all strive to be more like Christ. “God uses three primary catalysts for changing us and confirming us to Christlikeness.” (Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 1991, 17) These are other people, circumstances and spiritual disciplines. The third is completely within our control. If we seek to somehow be more like Christ, in the vein of a Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon or even a great local pastor, we must choose to understand and practice these disciplines. Just as an athlete has a routine of exercise and development, the ten spiritual disciplines supplied by Whitney can be our routine for the greater development of our Christlikeness.
The ten are easy to understand and practice. They are also very difficult to master. The first is Bible intake by hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating and applying God’s word. How different our lives would be if we all practiced this first discipline. First of all, most all of our personal conversations and interactions would become biblical discussions! The wonder of the Bible is impossible to keep to yourself. So many petty and unimportant arguments and issues would melt away. We would all be more like minded and thoughtful of our lives, comparing them to the biblical details we discover. A dedication to understanding God’s word is glue that can hold a group of a church together. The study of God’s word never comes back void. (Isaiah 55:11) The study of God’s word helps us to be approved by God. (2 Timothy 2:15) Jesus commanded that we study the scriptures to truly find life. (John 5:39-40)
I must move on or I’ll never get to the other nine disciplines in less than five hundred words. The other nine are as impactful as the first, but I have to admit I seem them a bit in the order of importance. Prayer is next. God has a “large ear” for our prayers. (Whitney, p65) He expects us to pray, gives us leaning by prayer and answers our prayers. Worship is third, both public and private. Worship is “focusing and responding to God.” (Whitney, 86) We take Bible study and prayer and bring them together in worship to greater develop our relationship with the Father. It’s a beautiful picture.
The other disciplines are evangelism, serving, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling and learning. These are all part of a process of improvement, of becoming more Christ-like. Engaging in these activities regularly will allow God to work through the Holy Spirit, using what we learn from these activities, along with the struggles of life to bring us closer to him.
What difference would these disciplines make in our lives if we practiced the consistently? The world is full of examples of greatness achieved by men and women who truly worked to be more like Christ. Some were more successful than others, but God blessed each of their efforts. When I think of Moses, Peter, Paul, Lottie Moon or Martin Luther, I think of people who dedicated themselves to this process and helped change the world. How might each of do the same? These ten steps are a place to start.