Let’s Get Creative

A few years back, I was at an investing seminar. The speaker pointed out that we are creatures of habit; and that if you don’t deliberately form good habits, you will unconsciously form bad ones. This came as a bit of an epiphany, for it holds some real spiritual truth.

 

I’ve noticed two things about nature. First, that its basically reactive: something happens because something else caused it: cause and effect. In society, people react with hate when abused, they jump when startled. Secondly, there is a tendency towards a running down, a wearing out. A deck of cards won’t deal itself, a house won’t build itself, and my lawn (regrettably) will not mow itself. Untended, it will soon be a mass of weeds.  Disease and age take their toll, things wear out, decay, and fall apart. The universe itself is in fact running down.

 

Like the weeds in my lawn, bad habits form all by themselves. They are part of nature and don’t really take any effort on my part. They just happen.

 

Good habits are different. Every time you do something against your natural inclinations, you rebel against the natural way of things. You have become proactive, rather than reactive. When we don’t clean our house, mow the grass, or even brush our teeth, the natural course is one of decline, decay, and disorder; we have to be constantly adding energy to the system to maintain it.

 

In a very real sense, the spiritual disciplines – like all good habits – are creative acts, the invasion of a supernatural, rational, and moral reality on nature. They are a demonstration of our being more than just biological machines. They are a demonstration of will and choice entering the universe.

 

I think this is one of the ways we are “made in God’s image”. We are to be sons and daughters of God, something of the same type of being – that is, spirits in essence. We have biological life because we live in the natural world; but we have a supernatural life contained in these bodies, because we also inhabit the realm of spirit. I think that is what Jesus meant when He told us to be “perfect”, even as our Father in Heaven is; in effect saying, “You are the same sort of being as your Father in Heaven (i.e., a spirit, and therefore moral and rational): now act like it”. A spiritual being reasons and makes moral choices; in fact, the Author of morality is a Spirit.

 

Christians, especially those of the more charismatic type, are often accused of being emotional. Mature faith involves putting our emotions in their place and determining to trust – and obey – regardless of our emotional state. It’s the most natural thing in the world to love those who love us. It is the path of least resistance – the easy path, the natural, reactive way. Hating those who hate us also comes pretty easy. God calls us to something higher; he tells us to love the unlovely, to bless and not curse, to pray for those who persecute us, to share with the world the same grace He has shown us. He wants us to help Him maintain His world by inputting love and grace into it, even as He Himself does. This is a long, long way from being “so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”.  It’s immensely practical and (no pun intended) down to earth.

 

He wants us to develop good habits of the heart. The deeds of the body in its natural state are primarily emotional and therefore reactive. The disciple is one who rises above these through faith. He chooses to trust – often in spite of his feelings. Romans 12:13 talks about putting to death the deeds of the body by faith. Discipline is an indicator of our faith: do we trust, do we think it’s worth doing? If we take the trouble to put down our natural inclinations, it must be because we expect a benefit, a better knowing of God. The  word disciple derives from the word discipline; the disciple submits to the discipline of seeking God through developing these good habits of the heart, habits of trust, learning what pleases God, and obedience. The undisciplined one lacks faith, or at least isn’t putting it into action; he is an “un-disciple”.

 

Jesus was the first example of a new kind of Man: spiritually alive and in fellowship with the Father, yet inhabiting a human body. Through Him we can come alive to God again, and possess a reflection of that same sort of life in our human bodies. In fact, it stands to reason that we need to be thus connected if we are to really show God’s sort of grace, God’s sort of life to the world. We are to be conduits; “Out of your bellies shall flow rivers of living water”. Jesus meant it when He said, “Without Me you can do nothing”. Without that vital connection to Christ what flows out of us is more reaction; and in the scale of eternity, of no value.

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