The Habits of Ordinary Saints
Fall 2016 we enjoyed the visit of Richard and Nathan Foster – along with our own Chris Hall. The three of them lead the Renovare conference – ‘Making Ordinary Saints’ at Good Samaritan, September 23-24, 2016. One of the handouts at the conference was Nathan’s book - ‘The Making of an Ordinary Saint’. If you’re weren't able to be at the conference you might like to buy a copy from Amazon anyway. Nathan’s book follows his journey of living into the 12 Spiritual Disciplines that his father wrote about in ‘Celebration of Discipline’ back in 1978.
Building on the impetus of the conference, our fall teaching series follows the Disciplines in the order that they’re set out in Nathan’s book. Nathan doesn’t like the word ‘Discipline’ – he likes ‘practice’, ‘habit’ or ‘intentional exercise’ (p.61 of his book). Discipline sounds too harsh. Discipline and disciple are of course related terms and his father likes the classic sense of the word. But we’ll go with ‘Habits’ – it reminds me of the call we have to clothe ourselves with Christ and puns nicely with the clothing worn by monks.
In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul encourages Timothy: ‘Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ The athlete who wants to thrive in their sport takes training very seriously. The training is not the end in itself – the sport is; but to get the most out of the sport, training is essential. Similarly, spiritual training is not an end in itself, or some source of ‘merit’ to wave at God or other people. It’s the training that we need to allow God the maximum opportunity to form us. And when we’re formed by God, that indeed holds out great promise for this life and the life to come.
Another way of looking at these Habits is to look at them as ways of seeing the life of Jesus. Jesus clearly lives out a life filled with each of Richard Foster’s list of 12 (with the notable exception of confession of sin!). As we go through our preaching series in the fall we will be examining each of these in the life of Jesus.