We kicked off our brand new series called Saints Together this Sunday, and Pastor Craig shared the overview of what we will be learning. Here is the recap of his sermon that Pastor Craig posted on his blog. Be sure to scroll down to find the link to watch the full sermon.
In my book Shepherd Leadership I talk about some strong, godly men who gave into temptation at a moment of weakness—David who behaved so poorly toward Bathsheba and Uriah, Elijah who got depressed and suicidal, and Peter who denied knowing Jesus.
One common factor for all of these guys is that their moment of giving in came when they were alone. They were isolated from others who may have been able to help them overcome the temptations that tripped them up.
The principle is clear: Christians are stronger when they are with other Christians.
Have you ever heard of the law of the weakest link?
If I have a chain with links that can handle 400, 300, 250, 175, and 500 pounds, how much weight can the chain hold? You don’t really need a calculator for this one because the answer is the capacity of the weakest link: 175 pounds. This is why it’s to my advantage to not only strengthen myself, but to help others grow their strength as well.
In Galatians 6:2-5, the apostle Paul talks about the strength we need for ourselves and our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. First, he says that each of us should test our own actions. I can only know my breaking point if I’m tested, and the Holy Spirit knows how to do this perfectly. After this testing, Paul says then I can take pride in myself without saying, “Well, at least I’m better than him!”
Quite simply, Paul tells each of us that we must be able to carry our own loads. Why? Because only a strong Christian can help someone else with their load. We each have to get stronger individually so that we have strength for others!
This is just like what we’ve been learning in our look at the Songs of Ascent: the goal is for all of the pilgrims to get to Zion together!
In this series, we are going to learn about six spiritual disciplines. Much like a physical workout, the Holy Spirit will start with us where we are. Not everyone will be at the same level nor will everyone progress at the same rate. But all of us will need these four things.
(1) Discipline. This is saying no to the easy thing or the thing that brings only fleeting happiness so that I can say yes to the things that bring eternal joy.
(2) Stick-to-it-iveness. I have to be committed to this process for a lifetime.
(3) Grace for yourself. There are going to be moments of struggles, plateaus, and even stumbles. Those are all a part of the journey, so we must extend grace to ourselves to learn, repent, and move forward.
(4) Patience for others. As I just mentioned, we are all on our own journey and we all process at different rates. Let’s be patient with each other.
All of these spiritual disciplines are to strengthen us individually so that we have something to share with other saints (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).
These spiritual disciplines shouldn’t become legalistic. Don’t make the way you do it the way everyone has to do it. After all, a 175-pound link will be different than a 250-pound link.
What I am calling spiritual disciplines, C.S. Lewis called religious practices. In a letter to a friend, he wrote about the safety and beauty that result from these pursuits—
“I think about the practices what a wise old priest said to me about a ‘rule of life’ in general—‘It is not a stair but a bannister’…i.e. it is, not the thing you ascend by but it is a protective against falling off and a help-up. I think thus we ascend. The stair is God’s grace. One’s climb from step to step is obedience. Many different kinds of bannisters exist, all legitimate. It is possible to get up without any bannisters, if need be: but no one would willingly build a staircase without them because it would be less safe, more laborious, and a little lacking in beauty.” (C.S. Lewis)
The New Testament always has the words “saints” in the plural, so these disciplines will help us grow from strong individual saints to a healthy and effective collection of saints.
Each of us needs all of us, and all of us need each of us! It does, indeed, take all of us.
If you would like to follow along as we learn about these six spiritual disciplines, you can find all of the messages by clicking here.