In the chapter we're discussing this week, the topic is discipleship. What is it? How do you make it happen? How do you cultivate an environment that is about becoming more like Jesus and less about a big church service? Why does it even matter? There's good stuff in there. I was bummed that there was no pat answer or definitive check list for me, but I wasn't really surprised. Sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) is rarely that cut and dry.
While discussing discipleship Alan asks "What is the everyday requirement for those who consider themselves Christian?" Dang. Good question. He says we need a "radical minimum standard for discipleship" and that we often "confuse the bare minimum with the extraordinary and keep lowering the bar until we clear it." So true. This really got me thinking. What is the bare minimum required of me? What should my life be made up of without question? I am embarrassed to say that I was mostly stumped and that the responses I came up with felt canned and so very far from genuine.
One thing that Alan suggests as a basic practice is "promoting core spiritual disciplines." Sounds good right? But, what does that look like? Two of the ideas that he expands on are prayer and engagement with scripture - two things I've felt personally challenged on as of late. I was relieved when he mentioned a Catholic tradition of prayer called Lectio Devina that combines the two and I'm excited to give it a try. He outlines how you can use this for a group or on your own in the back of the book. Here's my summary of what he suggestions for personal meditation:
Settle in and slow down. Get comfortable and take a minute just to breathe and clear your head and heart.
Lectio Read over a small portion of scripture and let it seep in. Let yourself linger.
Meditatio Pick a phrase that stuck out to you and think about why it did. What might God be speaking to you through this scripture in this moment?
Oratio Talk to God about it. What is he telling you and what is he asking from you? How can you actively respond to his prompting?
Contemplatio Rest. Remember that God is God and you are not (Psalm 46:10). Remember that he's in charge and he loves you. Depend on him. Trust him and take the risk of living the life he's calling you to live.