Last week through a set of unused dumbbells, we learned that adding discipline to our spiritual life will improve our walk with God: So a great New Years resolution is to be more disciplined about our spiritual life as well as our physical health. But discipline alone is not enough.
Have you ever been around a health and fitness freak? Whoa! Talk about coming on strong! They need to get a life! Unless you practice their extraordinary level of commitment in health and physical fitness, you will be judged unworthy and ignored. People who are serious about spiritual disciplines can be arrogant as well. Dumbbells are a good analogy but we can go too far.
So what do we do now? Maybe, we need another analogy. How about a piano? We have one of those in our house too. Oh how fondly I recall the precious memories of me sitting at the piano with my chubby little fingers deftly playing Mozart and Beethoven. Well, to me it sounded like Mozart and Beethoven but to anyone else, it sounded more like, “Chopsticks.”
A ten-year old playing “Chopsticks” is cute! “Parents are filled with pride as they imagine their musical prodigy in a concert hall performing for the appreciative fans. But you can’t play “Chopsticks” forever. Let’s face it: a 40 year old with years of piano lessons who can only play one song is a pathetic waste of talent and a real bore at parties. Eventually we need to learn something else or find a new hobby, or spend the rest of our lives hanging around ten year olds.
To play the piano effectively requires discipline as using the dumbbells we mentioned earlier but now we add a touch of creativity. Discipline is required to learn how to read a musical score and properly stroke the white and black keys in the right sequence that eventually becomes a song. Creativity is adding the personal touch which turns an ordinary song into a listeners delight.
The piano is a reminder of how God constantly challenges us to grow, to experiment, to boldly try new ideas and be creative with our spiritual decisions. He wants us to reach out and discover fresh innovative ways of getting to know and serve our Lord. The author of Revelation writes: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-16)
Discipline needs creativity to keep us from becoming lukewarm. Creativity adds individuality, a spark and passion as we pursue our relationship with God. What’s more, others are attracted to creativity. When someone plays a piano with imagination and passion, people will gather to hear and enjoy the beautiful music. Some will even be inspired to learn to play the piano themselves.
So another New Years Resolution is seeking to become more creative in my walk with God.
Now we look at the same spiritual questions with a balance of discipline and creativity. How is my daily prayer life? Do you regularly read the Bible? Are we active members of a local church? Is my spiritual life being challenged by regular participation in a small group? Do you frequently participate in a ministry serving those in need? Are we actively witnessing our faith to others?
We can look at the list above and look for innovative ways to improve our spiritual walk with God. This may surprise you but God is never dull. The piano represents God’s gift of creativity but this too is incomplete. Have you ever been around a gifted artist? “Spare me!” Many could easily be described as “stuck on themselves.” Too much emphasis on creativity alone promotes arrogance and selfishness. We tend to worship our creativity rather than the Creator who provided the gift.
If discipline and creativity aren’t enough: What do we do? We add one more analogy: a painting.
Next we’ll talk more about finding God, New Years resolutions and a painting. Until then, I’m going to blow the dust off our piano and try playing something other than “Chopsticks.”