I am someone who enjoys schedules and discipline and structure. I don’t usually like the spur-of-the-moment, go-with-the-flow type of lifestyle. But throughout my year as a student at Ellerslie, I was challenged to new depths of discipline unlike any I had ever known. Shortly before graduating, I began mentally preparing myself to continue to maintain the same level of discipline I had as a student – I did not want to slide in the areas that I had worked so hard to cultivate; rising early and spending significant time in prayer and study of God’s Word. Yet, the day after graduating, things took a different turn: I found out that we were going to have a baby! I was incredibly excited to say the least, but my daily life began to change significantly. I had morning sickness all day everyday for the first three months, and tiredness took on a whole new meaning. There were some days I could hardly get out of bed, and the schedule I had worked so hard to maintain went out the window. There were many days I felt terribly discouraged and struggled against guilt. I wondered if I was backsliding because I was not able to rise at an early hour, or if the Lord was disappointed in me because my times in the Word were several hours later than they had been? It was then that God began to gently challenge me. What was my goal in having discipline? Was it simply an end in itself, or was it to know Him more?
I realized I had made discipline into a formula for a right relationship with Christ; a law I needed to follow in order to be right with Him. He began revealing to me that discipline means absolutely nothing if it is not for the purpose of knowing and loving Him more.
Paul says in Philippians 3:8-11, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (KJV, emphasis added).
What was Paul’s goal? To know Christ! And he knew it was found through faith in Him, not by anything he had done.
The false religions of this world are based upon rules and practices in order to gain their own righteousness. In fact, many of those who follow them are far more disciplined than most Christians. Yet, in the end, what does this discipline gain them?
Christianity is the only religion that is based upon a relationship, not upon a set of rules. The reason we as humans love rules is because we want to attain to something. But we aren’t to try to reach a certain place in our walk with Jesus where we can stop our pursuit of Him. We can’t “accomplish” Christ. He is eternal, and so we are to always be seeking to know Him at deeper and deeper levels. And, our desire to know Him should come out of love and adoration, not so we can feel good about any accomplishment of our own.
He is infinitely worthy of our love, adoration, and devotion – and as we love Him, the discipline of reading the Bible and spending time with Him in prayer will be an outflow of that love. May the goal of our hearts be to know Him more that we may love Him more!