Since we are called to be “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:13–16), to an extent the people of God will always be swimming against the stream of the social current. “Follow your bliss” is not our mantra.
So self-discipline is required of us in making daily choices as we move through whichever milieu is native to us, “discerning the spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) of what sometimes feels like every darn thing – every TV programme, investment, and purchase; the clothes we wear, the company we keep, the language we use, the nature and quality of our friendships and sexual relationships, the business practices in which we engage. All of it is to be brought under scrutiny to determine not whether we can get away with it and still go to church, but whether it is wholesome, pure, edifying, and holy, building the peaceable kingdom that will be good news in a fallen world.
Evangelism – the extension of the reign of Christ in our society – is an every believer ministry, not the job of missionaries working somewhere else and supported by donations from the rest of us.
This daily, week-in, week-out attention to integrity and virtue in godly living requires more self-discipline than any of us actually has. And when we fall down on the job we go to God and humbly ask forgiveness; then we start again.
What are the areas of Christian discipline that you find hardest?
How do you think we should teach our children discipline?
Which areas of Christian discipline are emphasized in your church congregation? Are there any you think could be given a higher profile?
O God, our rock, our strength, and our redeemer, we rest in you, we trust in you. Unless you build the house, we who labour work in vain. Make us wise to see what is worth our priority and focus, give us courage to choose and hold on to what is good, and give us tenacity and perseverance to run the race set before us with our eyes fixed upon the prize of eternal life. In Jesus’ holy name we pray; Amen.