Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

The Purpose of Practices

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In the most famous sermon Jesus ever preached, he repeats several phrases over and over again. One of those phrases is “when you”. He says things like “when you give to the needy” (Matt. 6:2), “when you pray” (6:5, 7), and “when you fast” (6:16). Jesus assumes that we will have incorporated these practices and others like them into our lives. Part of being a Christian is doing things like giving and praying day in and day out. Why? These are good things to do, but there is something deeper happening when we engage in these daily practices. We are being shaped into the image of Jesus.

When Jesus speaks about these practices in Matthew 6, he focuses on the motivation behind them. It is not just to obey the command. Obedience is good. If these practices begin out of a desire to obey God, then that is fine. We should want to obey God in all things, but at the same time our motivations for fasting, praying, and giving should transcend obedience. As we are fasting, praying, and giving we should reflect on the kind of person God wants us to be. God’s goal for us is to be transformed into the image of Jesus.

How do these practices shape us? If someone is greedy, the practice of giving can eventually set them free from their greed. Spending time around others who are in need can help us grow in our compassion. Praying for our enemies will help us to love them as Jesus commands. Fasting from technology or TV should cause us to pay closer attention to others and our relationship with them. These practices will not change us overnight, but when we do them on a regular basis with the right motivations, we will become more like Jesus.

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