Friday, June 21, 2024

Pastor’s Place: Practice is the path to spiritual growth

By Kyle Cunningham, Lead Pastor, Bridgeway Church

There is an apocryphal story about a boy walking down 57th Street in New York City. The boy was on his way to a concert when he asked for directions. “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” A man smiled at the boy and said, “You practice, practice, practice.”

Practice is not a word that is usually associated with Christianity. We are taught that salvation comes by grace through faith. We don’t do anything. On one level, this is true—we cannot earn God’s love. We accept grace as a gift. However, this is an incomplete truth that has led to a tepid form of Christian spirituality. To read the New Testament and conclude that Christianity is a passive faith is to seriously misunderstand what Paul and other biblical writers taught.

The Christian life is a dynamic partnership between the Spirit and a believer. Spiritual life is a gift produced by God, but this gift presupposes the part we must play in our transformation. Dallas Willard once said, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.” What he means is that transformation is not going to happen by accident.

Practice, in Christian tradition, means engaging in spiritual disciplines that help cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. Richard Foster’s book, “The Celebration of Discipline,” is a classic on the subject. Some of these disciplines are well-known—worship, Bible study, prayer, serving. Others are more obscure, and even more rarely practiced among Western Christians—fasting, solitude, rest, and simplicity, to name a few. We do not earn salvation through piety. Rather, as a response to grace, we partner with the Spirit as he produces spiritual fruit in our lives.

This summer, use the extra margin in your life to develop new disciplines that allow the Spirit to work in your life. This is not always easy, but I think you will find that the outcome is worth it.

The Pastor’s Place features columns written by a different area church leader each month. Call 940-728-8284 for more information.

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