The start of a new year is always a great time to re-evaluate the many aspects of your life and we should never neglect the need for a spiritual MOT!
In a nut shell, just as our cars and electrical goods require regular assessments, many of us are in need of a good spring clean, refueling and realignment every now and then. So, here are 5 ways to get spiritually fit for 2017!
1. Read your Bible!
Refreshing your relationship with the Word of God is always a great place to start. Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut, we’re either reading for reading's sake, failing to develop our understanding and application of the Bible or not reading it at all.
Start this year reading the bible in a new way, integrate it into your daily routine and perhaps get a study tool to help you get more out of the text.
'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' 2 Timothy 3:16
It’s good to keep in mind that other than daily encouragement, the Bible is:
- A historical record
- A scientific exploration of creation under God
- A guide for daily living in work, relationships and community
- An instruction for economic and ecological stewardship
- An anthropological account of an ancient world,
- And most importantly...a living, prophetic and spiritual essence of the redemptive Messiah
Healthy Christian spirituality comes from uncovering the many dimensions of the Word of the God for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness!
2. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)
In chapter five of Paul’s letter, the Thessalonians are being addressed as the everyday Christian; a community that much like many modern day Christians, still have to work, study, manage homes (4:11) and await the '...day of the Lord'.
So how can we pray without ceasing whilst at work and at study?
And what could praying without ceasing look like in 2016?
Prayer is simply talking to God, so perhaps without engineering a newfangled routine that has the potential to become a burdensome ritual, instead one could consider simply reconnecting their thoughts towards God throughout the day. Where you might consult yourself or a friend on daily matters, feelings or ideas, why not create a habit of discussing it with God first?
3. Steer clear of rituals and bondage
In an age where many people are relying on steps, short cuts and fool proof routes to success, we can be guilty of applying these same models in our Christian spirituality. One of the Bible's overarching lessons, addressed in both the Old and New Testament, is that living by law and ritual to acquire righteousness is a doomed pursuit. Whilst models of discipline, routine and ways of expressing spirituality may be enriching, we should be careful not to confuse enrichment with righteousness.
‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him’ Hebrews 11:16
In many ways, Christianity brings about the experience of freedom. God simply asks that we have faith in Him and His salvation in order that we may be saved - the highest form of spiritual freedom! Simplify your pursuit for righteousness by losing those chains of law and ritual that replace the function of your faith. 2016 could be an opportunity to shake off those unrealistic 'spiritual agendas' and experience spiritual freedom through simple faith in a redeeming God!
4. Spend time with your Christian friends and family
'Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching' Hebrews 10:25
Taking time out for your Christian community is great for feeling spiritually refreshed, encouraged and challenged! Whilst finding purpose in the wider world, it can be hard to decipher the truths of life (which can sometimes get lost in the grey areas that arise from living in a fallen world).
'Is it ok to listen to secular music?'
'Should I be so extreme about how I sensor the TV shows I watch, going to a bar or pursuing wealth and fame?'
'What about ancient knowledge, conspiracy theories and political issues?'
Life as a Christian will always be full of important questions that even when consulting scripture, may not appear to have a clear answer. In such cases, we should make it a priority to re-evaluate our ideas with other Christians where we can discuss, debate and enjoy learning from one another.
5. Take time for creation
Through gifts given by God, man has accomplished many wonderful creations: art, architecture, music, ritual and more. Sometimes we should make time to appreciate what came before... The trees, the mountains, the seas, the stars and the animals!
'... Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities -- his eternal power and diving nature. So they have no excuse for knowing God.' Romans 1:20 NLT
Words by Eleasah Phoenix Louis (MA)
A Christian and Community Activist with particular focus on Christian pedagogy for ethnic minority groups and racial justice.