Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rethinking a Common Resolution

It's that time of year again, when many of us with the best of intentions resolve to read our Bibles more or pray more. I don't know very many Christians (myself included) who are actually satisfied with their practice of daily "quiet time" with the Lord. We're often inconsistent or apathetic--so certainly resolutions of this kind can be important. But before you make one, head over to Joe Thorn's place for a heart check. His post "The Quiet Time: Not a Cleansing Rite" helps us think biblically and debunks some all-too-common myths when it comes to time alone with God:

...As important as this sort of formative discipline is, your quiet time is not the measure of your spiritual life, nor is it the measure of your standing before God. We need to be careful to avoid these false assessments by keeping the cross at the center of our lives. God loves us and accepts us because of Christ alone. Jesus is our confidence before God, not our performance. And yet, it seems that on some level, at least some of the time, we do not believe this.

To put it plainly, many Christians have bought into a cleansing rite they believe washes away sin and guilt and enables them to approach God. Sometimes we fall into the habit of evaluating “how we’re doing” spiritually based on the consistency of our daily devotions. It is not uncommon to place such an emphasis on this private aspect of our faith that it trumps everything else God requires of us. ...For many of us our quiet time can become a point of pride that provides a false sense of confidence with which we try to approach God.

On the other end of this warped perspective I have found that many Christians (including myself) have no confidence to approach God after a time of rebellion, disobedience, inconsistency or even complacency. It is as if we think, “I have been so far from God, so cold, so selfish, so sinful I cannot now approach him. I first need to get my performance back up. ...This, my friends, is not dependence on God’s grace, but trust in our own performance, in a cleansing rite. This is a form of works righteousness that insults the gift of God’s grace in Jesus.

Check out the whole post--it's only the first in what looks to be a valuable series. I'm headed over to read the rest now:
The Quiet Time: Defined
The Quiet Time: My Failure
The Quiet Time: What Is It Good For?

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Love this post...so true about Quiet Time having become a measure of how spiritual a person is...I felt guilty for many years because I didn't measure up to the "Quiet Time Standard"...began to rethink it all after hearing a guest speaker at church who'd suffered the same guilt...he pointed out that most believers in the past did not possess a personal copy of the written Word...so they were unable to have that daily Bible devotion. I realized I was in bondage to a false god in a sense...I was in bondage to a standard God didn't put on me...and it is not the Bible I worship, but the Lord...His Word is a great benefit to me...for instruction, counsel, understanding, etc. I'd be a fool not to read/meditate/study it... But it is not a tool to be used to beat me over the head ...I hate it when I see people made to feel guilty because they are "less than" because they don't read their Bible everyday....I think it is a ploy to get the focus off the Cross.