Achieve a Decent Existence

How do you become a great scorer in basketball?

You shoot a couple of hundred jump shots a day.

How do top golf professionals get there and stay there?

They hit a few hundred shots a day.

But it is not mindless repetition. It’s taking a shot. Thinking about it. Making slight adjustments. Practicing the same motion every time so that when they’re in the game it’s natural.

Same in our daily lives–both how we live and our spiritual life.

Why do you think Paul so often compares spiritual life to training in the gymnasium? Dallas Willard writes in The Spirit of the Disciplines:

But thoughtful and religiously devout people of the classical and Hellenistic world, from the Ganges to the Tiber, knew that the mind and body of the human being had to be rigorously disciplined to achieve a decent individual and social existence. This is not something St. Paul had to prove or even explicitly state to his readers.

We must discipline ourselves in the sense of developing those routines of daily life including prayer, study, gathering together with others such that they become natural. The difference is that we are not practicing for the game–we’re in the game and practicing at the same time.

I set up routines such that it is only natural that I do certain things–rise early, read, have my coffee, think, plan the day. I try to do these when I travel, too. I crave routine.

My “virtual friend” Jon Swanson wrote today about Solomon who built a great and magnificent house for God. But he forgot the daily life of walking with God. And, in the end, it all came apart for him and his heirs.

It’s not the temple we build, it’s the daily practices that eventually build the temple that matters–our lives in service with God toward other humans.

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