Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions… like getting in shape. I love the BowFlex commercial… Five minutes, three times a week and you can look like a Greek god. Mr. BowFlex is ripped from head to toe… I say “No way!” Five minutes, three times a week… We are supposed to believe that everyone would look like that? In fact, it’s only because it’s so hard to look like that… that the BowFlex guy gets paid a lot of money to make the commercial.
So… sometimes we think real people can’t just be imitators of Christ. Good-hearted Christians will struggle over this…We drift toward just giving up on it. “It’s too hard,” we say… “I’m not spiritual enough. The Bible doesn’t really mean that!” Or we drift toward striving, and laboring away, trying to really, really good. But it just turns into legalism. It becomes toxic. Here’s the deal…Godly men & women leave clues on how to pursue God without going down a legalistic path. There are spiritual practices, or spiritual disciplines that people have engaged in for thousands of years that have trained and opened them up to a deep and authentic walk with God. The great irony of spiritual disciplines is that we assume they will bring drudgery and bondage. Instead, they lead to great freedom.
We tend to think of spiritual practices as difficult work that just couldn’t be enjoyable; it sounds like anything but freedom. We put in the general category of eating vegetables or going to the dentist.
Galatians 2:4: “This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” These Christ followers seemed to be to happy… having too much fun… getting too much out of life for it to be spiritual… lets spy on them.
Galatians 5:1:“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
God gives us freedom to live as loving, creative, adventurous, kind, and joy-filled people, not as people enslaved by fear, enslaved by guilt, enslaved by materialism, enslaved by greed, or enslaved by unbridled pleasure-seeking.
One of the great lessons we learn from scripture is that God’s intent is not to control us… He doesn’t want you to live in pride, fear, or guilt. His intent is to set us free. Spiritual disciplines draw us into an intimate relationship with God. By drawing near to Him, we find ultimate freedom.