Friday, June 3, 2011

Duty, Delight, and Discipline

"Often, discipline has to jump start desire."

The Christian life shouldn't revolve around duty, things we have to do to check off a list or get God's approval. Indeed, as Piper and Lewis have noted, we should find true joy and delight in knowing God. "In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him," writes Lewis, commenting on the catechism. Piper tweaks the catechism itself: "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

In my original post, I was contemplating the statement "If I learn to love, then I will obey" and how my focus needs to be first on loving Jesus before a checklist of things I should do. And that's still true. But this is where discipline comes in.

Discipline allows my heart to keep my focus on loving Jesus, because I am prone to wander. Loving Jesus doesn't just happen most of the time, at least not if I want to love Him well. Loving Jesus means being intentional about studying the Word and making time to listen to His voice and surrendering myself and taking up my cross each new day.

Discipline isn't an added burden to the relationship of Christianity. It's an essential part of what allows that relationship to exist in the first place. Friendships just don't happen. They have to be intentionally cultivated. There may be seasons of closeness and joy, and seasons of separation, but throughout it all, there has to be some intentional interaction for the relationship to continue.

Discipline isn't easy, but it should become a delight and not a duty. If I want to delight in playing a sport, I have to be disciplined about how I exercise and eat and practice the game. The discipline allows the sport to be delightful, but delight must be pursued through the process of discipline.

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