Wanna Be a Healthy Christian?
I was sitting with a lady the other day who was struggling with significant health issues. Her biggest anxiety was related to the uncertainty of whether or not she would improve enough to do the things she normally did and enjoyed.
We often take our physical health for granted. But what about our spiritual health? Do we assume that because we're a believer we're automatically given a healthy spiritual life? I think we all know our circumstances and hardships easily reveal the ways we're not in good shape and we feel the pain of raw wounds rubbed on sometimes.
Just as our physical health is no guarantee, neither is our spiritual maturity. While we discipline ourselves in practices that keep us near to Christ, A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines: How to Become a Healthy Christian shows us how we can grow in maturity, not just in spiritual practices, but also by considering ourselves as a whole and how our faith connects with our humanity and emotion.
So, how do we become healthy Christians?
"You might think the answer is "regularly read the Bible, pray often, and share the gospel consistently." And those practices are certainly part of it. But in this book, Mason King expands your thinking beyond basic spiritual practices (which typically emphasize what you must do) into a more holistic picture of what a full and flourishing life with God can look like when it is cultivated well (focusing instead on who you might become).
In these pages, learn how you can become a vibrant, healthy Christian by regularly offering to God three main dimensions of your life—your attention, your emotions, and your limits—for when you are disciplined in cultivating these environments at the root, you will grow into the right kind of tree." (from the back)
I think the title of this book is a little misleading. If you've read books on spiritual disciplines, usually you anticipate the discussion to be about the specifics, like chapters on Bible reading, fasting, prayer, fellowship, etc. (like Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline)
This book isn't that. The author rather focuses on 3 important challenges to our spiritual maturity for this cultural moment: The relentless hijacking of our attention, how we interact with and process our emotions, and accepting our humanity and the limits we have as created beings.
He reminds us that unless we're dissatisfied with our life, we're not likely to change. When it comes to our spiritual growth, we do need to take a look at these 3 areas prayerfully and reflectively to see the ways we've not fully surrendered our whole lives to Christ. Obviously we're not perfect people, so it's not a judgement, it's an invitation to draw near to Christ, to lay our lives before the Spirit to examine and lead us deeper toward Him.
When it comes to our attention, he points out, "our attention is the most precious commodity we have. It is worth billions of dollars every day to companies who want to monetize our moments, desires, and good intentions." I'm not sure I'd really ever reflected on the monetary value of my attention, but it sure shook me to consider the importance of my stewardship in this area, particularly as devices seem to claw for my eyeballs.
The discipline of our emotions is a really valuable section in this book. As a nurse specializing in mental health, this is a regular topic for me with clients. The author shares biblical truth and practical strategies to help us. He reminds us, "if left unprocessed, emotions reinforce disordered desires and distort interpretations of our own experience. Surrendering and discipling how we handle our emotions enables us to move through them toward productive action in life with God." We learn to recognize what we're feeling, and also to trust God with how we feel.
Recognizing our limits may sound self-explanatory, but I don't think we always live this truth practically, especially when it comes to our drivenness and ambition, selfishness and self-reliance. The individualist mentality our culture adopts thinks me-first or what's right for me, in contrast to what's best for our community. Though we have great abilities in our modern day to govern and control our own lives, the value and importance of community often goes to the wayside.
This book is for the Christian who wants to grow in maturity, yes that means becoming more disciplined and you'll find practical ways to do just that. I'll definitely give this 5 stars because there's really important topics to reflect on and offers practical ways to implement them. I highly recommend it.
# of pages: 208
Level of Difficulty: Easy
My Rating: 5 stars
*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review!