Friday, 23 November 2007
I was reading through my spiritual journal this morning and it struck me how so much of the Christian life is really about repetition. It's about going back over the old thing again and again, learning the Scriptures again and again, hearing again and again. We need, undoubtedly, innovation and newness, but the mainstay of our spiritual lives (and actually the whole of life) is repeated action and acknowledgement of truths. This is partly because of sin. We are constantly leaking spiritually, constantly wandering off and our hearts are always hardening. So, we need to repeatedly apply the gospel and the means of grace to ourselves. The persistence of sin needs repeated grace. But repetition is also an integral part of holiness. You can't be godly without repeated action - what is faithfulness or love but repetition of good actions and intentions? Character is essentially what we repeatedly do. Perseverance is simply the repetition of godliness in adverse circumstances. My repeated actions and words tell me who I am. Of course, then, the big challenge is what this means for contemporary culture, which hates repetition. Boring, humdrum repetition is the one thing we loathe - it is the opposite of self-realization (which is always found in something new). The concept of discipline is a difficult one in our culture. Yet how can any serious goal ever be reached without repeated, disciplined action? So, let's guard against a dislike for the familiar, repeated patterns of spiritual disciplines, church and persevering love. Let's learn to repeat ourselves.