The words “disciple” and “discipline” are closely related; this is not coincidental. To be a disciple is to be a “learner” or a “follower”. In our case, a follower of Christ. The words “disciple” and “Christian” can be used interchangeably because every Christian is called to follow Jesus; there are no “super-Christians”. Because our flesh wars against our spirit, we must be disciplined to stay on the path of following Christ, day by day and moment by moment, just as any athlete must be disciplined in order to win their upcoming competitions or a musician must be disciplined in order to put on a beautiful performance.
Because we know that love is much more than a feeling, we could say that the spiritual disciplines are simply different ways that we show our love for God, not to earn His love, but simply to respond to His love and act in love towards Him.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “this is the will of God, your sanctification…” Why? Is it because God is a tyrannical king who demands blind loyalty? Is it because God demands that we perform entirely pure and flawless works in order to enter heaven? NO! It is for three main reasons--which are really one:
1) that we might be holy as He is holy
2) that He may be glorified
3) that we may have joy!
These three reasons are so intertwined with one another that we cannot separate them and say one without saying the other two, but for clarity’s sake we will look at our one goal of discipline from these three different viewpoints.
Grace and peace,