When Faith And Works Intersect

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

No, I’m not going for a bad joke for a 7-year-old. On the other hand, this sounds like a question to meditate on to break your preoccupation with the cares of the world.

Last night, our small group was studying Romans (like we have for the past several months and we’re only to 8:1). We were talking faith and living by faith. But where do the spiritual disciplines fit?

“What comes first? Faith or disciplines?”

This is really a faith versus works argument. Can we make ourselves right with God through our work?

James tackles this question. Actually Paul does, just not as succinctly. Jesus does.

People who have had faith and who have realized that they were drifting away from their relationship with God have rekindled their faith through regular reading from the Bible.

When I lead people into an understanding of the spiritual disciplines and try to lead them into practice, my counsel is that the purpose of practicing study, prayer, mediation, service, worship, simplicity is not to earn your way into God’s favor. It is to work on yourself so that your relationship deepens.

Jon Swanson is writing on routines again. He says, “Think of it this way: a ritual is something we do hoping to influence God. A routine is something we do to work on us. A routine like daily prayer or weekly Sabbath or monthly celebration brings our minds back to the story of God’s work. But thinking about a routine this way means we have to think about what we are doing rather than ritually acting.”

I am a person who needs routine. If my routines are interrupted–such as almost every time I travel–then I can feel it physically as well as spiritually.

Routine, practice, discipline–if done intentionally, they are all ways to work on ourselves.

Faith comes first. Then we go to work.

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