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QUADS Content, Week 4

Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

1. Would you describe yourself as a disciplined person? Think of something in your life that you wanted (or still want) to be really good at. What sort of disciplines have you put in place to help you towards achieving that goal?

2. When I say the word “Spiritual Disciplines” what comes to mind? What emotions does it stir up, what acts/actions do you think of?

3. For those of you familiar with Christian nomenclature, when I say the word “legalistic” what comes to mind? How would you describe a legalist?

Spiritual Disciplines and legalism can often be thought of in an intertwined way, but when understood properly you see that they are totally different from one another. The goal of the Christian is not to be really good or holy. The goal of the Christian is to be at peace with God. But to be at peace with God the requirement is perfect and complete holiness. (read Matthew 5:48)

Legalism responds to that and says, okay, then I will make myself pure and holy so that God will look upon me and my works and we will be at peace. Legalists in the Bible were called many things, most recognizable would be the Pharisees. So the goal of the legalist is holiness, and the outcome of that goal is peace with God. Unfortunately for the legalist, they we're unable to understand that you cannot become as pure and holy as God needs us to be (read Mark 10:17-27), and in our efforts to do so, we become spiritual snobs and arrogant (read Luke 18:11).

Christians respond to the requirement of God (perfect holiness) in humility, repentance and faith. We look within us and see how short we fall (Romans 3:23-24), and by faith we look to the perfect works of Christ, his complete holiness, to cover us - or be gifted to us - which we receive by faith, and in doing so, are put at peace with God (read Ephesians 2:1-9 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Because of this, we practice Spiritual Disciplines, not as ways to earn our way into God’s presence, but to experience, enjoy and marvel in the presence and love of God, that we’ve received by grace.

From John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry:

“Let’s say your marriage is less than ideal. Your spouse comes to you and asks for more time together, simply to enjoy each other and get back on the same page. He or she asks for, say, one date night a week, thirty minutes a day of conversation, and a little time on the weekends. Basically, the bare minimum for a healthy marriage. If you say, “Sorry, I don’t have the time” (all while giving thirty hours a week to things like TV and the internet and your fantasy football league), anybody with a modicum of common sense would say, “Yes, you do. You’re just wasting your time.” Or, he or she would say, “Well, then, you’re just too busy to have a spouse. So either you need to radically rethink your schedule or you’re en route to a divorce.” Hopefully, you would advocate for the former. Is our relationship with Jesus any different? We get out what we put in. This isn’t some legalistic guilt trip. This is an invitation. To the life we actually ache for. A life that can be found only by moving through the world shoulder to shoulder with Jesus.”

4. What do you make of the difference between legalism and practicing spiritual disciplines? Do you agree with what’s written above?

5. I recommend The Celebration of the Disciplines (Richard Foster) or The Spirit of the Disciplines (Dallas Willard) for more resources on this, but what are Spiritual Disciplines?

John Mark Comer says,

“Jesus’ life rhythms, or the details of his lifestyle, have come to be called the “spiritual disciplines.” That language isn’t found in the New Testament, and there are pros and cons to that phrase. Unfortunately, most people think spiritual means “immaterial,” but the spiritual disciplines are actually all habits of your soul and your body. I guess “soul-body disciplines” was trademarked or something? And discipline: I actually love that word, but in a hedonistic age it has negative connotations for most people, hence the decline of the spiritual disciplines in the Western church.1 I prefer to call them the “practices of Jesus.””

6. So Spiritual Disciplines are practices of Jesus that we read about in the four Gospels. A few of them are: prayer, reading Scripture (how we learn about God and hear from God), solitude, fasting (not just from food, but from anything - for example technology), communal meals / celebration, and Sabbath (worship at Church and ceasing the entire day from your regular life activity). What on this list has helped you experience, enjoy and marvel in the presence and love of God? What on this list have you not done much of?

7. Do you think it’s reasonable to add 1-2 of these disciplines into your schedule? Why or why not? What will it take to make it happen?

Remember, disciplines do not make God love you more. They are practices that help you enjoy Him more.

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