At the beginning of every New Year, we encourage church members to prayerfully consider adopting (or renewing) spiritual disciplines to help us grow deeper in our devotion to Christ, Christ’s body and Christ’s mandate.
Love disciplines are practical habits or personal disciplines we adopt in our daily lives to help us protect and nourish our relationship with God. It is our love commitments to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, if we are not careful, this spiritual exercise can fall into the dangers of legalism or passivity.
Legalism is when we begin to use spiritual disciplines as a means to feel justified before God. We tried to merit His favor by trying to succeed in our disciplines. This often leads to guilt trip or ego trip. Passivity is when one genuinely desires change and growth but does not move to turn these aspirations into actions. Stagnancy therefore prevails, which finally leads to discouragement and disappointment. To counter legalism and passivity, I ask that we consider our motivation for pursuing our devotion to Christ.
As a pastor, I have seen courting couples forgo their devotion time with God and skip church and small group gatherings in view of hectic work or school commitments. Yet this same group of people manages to carve out time to pursue their relationship with each other, being willing to sacrifice sleep and personal spaces. They make love commitments to contact each other on a regular basis and to meet each other for a meal or movie even when they are busy. They will take time out to celebrate each other’s birthday. If you ask them if it is a wearisome task for them to be doing this for each other, they will reply without hesitation: “No way! Rather, it is my joy to make sacrifices just to be with the other person!”
In the same way, let love motivate us to set priority and pay attention to our relationship with God, the Maker and Lover of our soul.
When we are motivated by love, we become committed to Him not out of dreadful duty or to seek acceptance from Him. We know we are fully loved by God in Christ, so we respond to Him in love and gratitude. We find joy in pursuing our devotion to Christ!
We also begin to adopt love disciplines to help protect and nourish our relationship with Him. We will not view having our devotion time with God as a boring routine. We will make space in our schedules to be engaged in what engages Him. We will carve out time to worship Him with His people and to connect with His people. We become intentional voluntarily without the need of an external push from others.
When we fail in our spiritual disciplines, love will also motivate us to renew our devotion to Him, re-calibrate our spiritual disciplines and schedules and re-commit ourselves to pursue these spiritual disciplines yet again. Because love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things!
My prayer for the church this year is that we will all see Jesus for who He is more and more. “Come Spirit of Christ, come and make us love Jesus more and more.”
By Rick Toh, Lead Pastor/Elder (YCKC Bulletin 12&13 January 2019)