“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Put it in to practice! For the Apostle Paul this lies at the heart of what living the Christian life means. We take the truths about God that we learn from the Bible and put them into practice. As we do this, God‘s presence is released into our life and with that presence comes peace, strength, insight and a host of other miracles and blessing. Seems like a simple plan right? Well, in theory yes. But in reality many Christians find it hard to remember God’s truths, let alone pay attention to them and put them into practice. Especially when many of them (at least the ones that come to mind) feel like they may be a bit out of date. This is not true of course, but what we remember from Sunday school often feels like old stories and myths that are not readily relevant to our lives. So what do we do? How can we put the things we learn into practice?
We can begin by acknowledging that there is way more to God’s truths then what we know. What we remember about the Bible and God is often mixed with cultural myths and assumptions. So we confess that there is so much we do not know and go on a journey to discover the truth. This journey does not end – there is always more know and discover about God. Next, we start a rhythm or a habit in our lives. As we encounter a truth about God we decide that we will put effort and time into contemplating and practicing it. This means we need to make room in our busy lives for God. We need to put aside the loud (but in the end unnecessary things) for the important and vital stuff. These truths are discovered not just on our own, but in community and relationship with God’s people (i.e. in worship gatherings and prayer groups). The next step is we write down or record our experiences somehow – so that we can remember and reinforce these experiences. We add prayer (for God’s help and guidance for we cannot do this on our won). And lastly we share our experiences on this journey with others. We talk about how putting God’s truths into practice has shaped and changed our lives. We share these experiences because others need to hear and God shapes and changes us as we bring others into our faith practices.
One of the greatest benefits from this journey is that as we put God’s truths into practice we draw closer to God. God becomes more and more a dear friend, someone with whom we have an intimate relationship. We then begin to sense and see God’s fingerprints on our lives. The result is that we are better able to hear and be moved by God simply because we know God so much better.
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