Thoughts & Suggestions | Discipline: The Glad Surrender
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
When we agree to follow Christ, we agree to be disciplined. The essence of Christian discipline is just that we say "yes" to the call of God…. the call to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus wherever he leads.
I think I like Elizabeth Elliot so much because she's a super practical person, just like me. She doesn't just say, "God wants you to be be disciplined in following Him!" and then leave you to figure out what that actually means. In her book, Discipline: The Glad Surrender, Elizabeth outlines seven different areas of our lives that Christians are called to be disciplined, and gives practical ideas of what it actually looks like in daily life.
The seven areas of discipline she talks about are discipline of the body, mind, place, time, possessions, work, and feelings. In each of these areas, we are to place ourselves under God's commands… not for the sake of self-improvement (along the same lines of jogging and time management so that we'll be better liked or more productive), but for the glory of God and our joy in Him. The call to discipline isn't just for special, "good Christians," but for everyone who follows Christ.
…Honestly, this book was MASSIVELY convicting for me to read. I've struggled quite a bit over the past few months figuring out what it looks like for me to be disciplined in this new season of life, and on most days, I feel like a giant pit of fail. But, even in seasons like the one I've been going through, it's important to remember that our discipline (e.g. doing what God has called us to do) doesn't save us. Christ saves us. Elliot says, "Discipline is not my claim on Christ, but the evidence of His claim on me."
So, yes. Discipline is important. It's a part of our sanctification, and we should be fairly concerned if we're not growing and becoming more like Christ. But it's the fruit, not the tree. Even in times of disobedience where I don't deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Christ, I must continue looking to Christ, believing He has the power to save me, and trust Him as He points out areas of sin in my life.
The point of being a Christian is to become more like Christ, and discipline is how God accomplishes this in our lives. So. Yes. It's painful. Any athlete training for a big game can tell you that it hurts and it's not always fun.
But it's so worth it.