I’ve been thinking about spiritual practice a lot lately. Many of the recent books on my list have centered on spiritual disciplines. On campus, we are talking about (and hopefully engaging in) spiritual disciplines each week at our weekly gatherings. My small group is reading a book on spiritual disciplines together. I fully believe adding spiritual practice to your life, building habits that point you towards the person God created you to be, are essential in the journey to maturity.
I can also see how the risk: people begin to think their status before God and others is based on how well they do with such practices.
That is why it is always vital to remind people, at least from a Christian perspective (I can’t pseak for other religions) that spiritual practice is not about earning anything. We believe that in Jesus we are already loved more than we could ever be. There is nothing we can do that makes God love us more, or less.
Brennan Manning is one writer who has helped remind me of this. The Ragamuffin Gospel is all about how much God loves us. Manning was a Franciscan monk, like some of the authors I’ve mentioned who write on discipline. But he is very open with his lifelong struggles with sin and addiction. The message: God loves us even when we fail. Or, as another book of his states, all is grace.
So may we who call ourselves Christians live in response to God’s live. May we strive to grow and mature through spiritual practice and may we embrace God’s love knowing our failures do not make God love us less nor do our successes make God love us more.