I said earlier that Christianity is a discipline, and so it is. The experimental life a Christian undertakes is not without direction. God has a plan for you…just you. Nobody else gets to say where, when, how or why this plan unfolds. It is entirely individualized conceived by you and God. As such, it is not the willy-nilly, focusless wandering that the “I’m spiritual, not religious” crowd stumbles around in.
Religion by definition has to do with focusing on a goal (not a church or organization). Christians are focused. It’s not easy to focus on…let’s say, reading the Bible daily for inspiration, praying for ourselves and others, and finding time to reflect. That’s something to get straight right here. Christianity is not for the lazy, the half-hearted, or for drones. It requires commitment and…here’s that word again, discipline.
Being a Christian is a lot like being thrown back into the Garden. Man was put in the Garden by God to tend and keep it. I believe God intended us to have fun with that idea. When Jesus told the disciples that if they had faith they could say to a mountain be removed…and it would be, or they could say to a tree to be plucked up by the roots…and it would be, he was not exaggerating or joking, he was serious. Jesus demonstrated this by withering a fig tree and in God we possess this ability and more. The disciple in Christianity is an adventure to discover that ability again.
We were meant to be garden designers and were given dominion over everything. When one becomes a Christian, the assignment to dress and keep the garden begins anew…only the garden is a mess and so is our life. No matter, roll up your sleeves and dig in. To properly dress and keep the garden requires a mind toward what is good for the earth, but that isn’t how the work begins. It begins with you. The Garden was lost and became the present mess it is because Man became a mess. Fix the Man, fix the Earth.
At thirty-seven years old I went back to college to earn a degree in nursing while working full-time as a nurse aide in a nursing home on the night shift. I went to work and class, studied when I could, ate, and slept…sometimes while driving so I could spend the next twenty-five years being hit, kicked, puked on, cussed at..and thanked. It doesn’t sound like fun on the surface, but it was a true joy. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The disciplined transformation of the garden of a person’s soul is like that. It is a joy, though there are difficult times and lessons involved that seem to never end. Uncommitted souls who see Christians fail, are quick to dismiss Christianity. Often this is because they have no concept of it being a process carried out over time…quite often by trial and error. Seeing only the difficulties, faults, and occasional failures of Christians, they are blind to the joy. But, Christians see it even at their worst.
This highlights another point, if Christianity is not producing joy and transformation, one’s discipleship is lacking something. This is not the time to give up. It is time to judge…oh yeah, I said that. If we judge ourselves properly, we will not be quick to judge others too harshly. This is because we know how difficult it is to affect a real transformation of the garden of one’s soul… and change the world. When things aren’t growing in that garden, it’s time to step back and see why. The need for self-evaluation is not a failure, it is an essential part of the disciple that produces real growth.