In Part 3, we said that worship is a farce. OK, actually we said that Jesus told the Pharisees that THEIR worship was a farce. Worship is actually a great idea when it’s done with honesty, relationship, and a healthy dose of listening for what God has to say.
But none of those things (i.e., honesty, relationship, and listening) happen by accident. It takes a deliberate and focused effort over time to have a real relationship. So how do we accomplish this “Holy Intentionality?”
No one runs a marathon or graduates from a course of training/education without being intentional over a long period of time. We have training programs and syllabi that require consistent dedication towards a greater goal.
So why would we expect our spiritual life to be any different?
Now, if you’re like me, before I commit to a course of action, I want to know why: why should I commit precious time and resources (and sacrifice) to be intentional with God?
Why be intentional?
Let me answer this question with another question: what do you ultimately want for your life? Because when it comes to deciding between intentionality with God, or not being intentional with God, we stand at a fork in the road. And the two options have vastly different outcomes.
Intentionality with God will bring the Fruit of The Spirit. Many fans of Scripture can probably recall Paul’s famous list of the benefits in being filled with The Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23). Who wouldn’t want that?
But that’s a list of intentionality… that doesn’t happen by accident. There’s another list Paul gives that reflects our more natural (and unintentional) state: Read just before that famous list in Galatians and you’ll see the fruit of a life that has no intentionality with God (Gal 5:19-21).
If we’re asking, “Why be intentional about my relationship with God?” we’re really asking which fork in the road shall I take? We would be wise to consider not only the final destination, but the lifestyle along the way.
How can I be intentional?
Being intentional with God is nothing new; people have been doing it for centuries in the form of Spiritual Disciplines. Sometimes that works against us… how could anything so ancient still be relevant in the 21st century? (I won’t digress into why some things are called classics and stand the test of time!). Let’s just say, it works properly if used as directed.
If you’re looking for a traditional and overarching view of these disciplines, Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline is a modern day classic. Incorporating them into daily life can be examined through these two fine resources:
- The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg (Note:Kindle version)
- The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard (Note:Kindle version)
Back to the analogy of training for a moment: You could read all the books about how to run, what to eat, how to stretch, etc., but at some point you just have to start running if you ever hope to train for a marathon.
Same thing with Spiritual Disciplines… at some point you have to start doing them in order to experience the intentional life with God. As with any habit you’re trying to develop, set a time, a place, and have everything you need ready to go so that there are basically zero obstacles to your daily practice.
Resist the urge to try to burn through all the spiritual disciplines in a 6 week course. Pick one and stay with it long enough to get an appreciation for it before trying something new. Treat it like a marathon, not a sprint!
Over the course of time, you’ll find you’ve developed much more than just a habit. You’ll find you’re cultivating room for the Holy Spirit to dwell in you. And what happens then?
Life will be different! Maybe not the circumstances or the day-to-day issues… but YOU will be different IF you are intentional about your relationship with God. You will move from forming a conscious habit to living a Spirit-filled life. And that, my friends, is God’s greatest desire for all of us!
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you” (John 14:16–17 NLT)
– What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to being intentional in your relationship with God?
– What is one thing you can do today to be more intentional with God?
– Name at least one other person who could help you (or walk with you) on a journey of being more intentional with God. Make a point to contact them within the next 48 hours and ask them to join you!