Posts Tagged ‘Discipline’

“Falser Words Were Never Spoken”

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Brian Morton wrote an exceptionally strong OpEd piece in the New York Times recently.  What he pointed out was our penchant for taking quotes of the great thinkers and turning them into saccharine “feel good” slogans.  He noted …

Thoreau, Gandhi, Mandela — it’s easy to see why their words and ideas have been massaged into gauzy slogans. They were inspirational figures, dreamers of beautiful dreams. But what goes missing in the slogans is that they were also sober, steely men. Each of them knew that thoroughgoing change, whether personal or social, involves humility and sacrifice, and that the effort to change oneself or the world always exacts a price.

But ours is an era in which it’s believed that we can reinvent ourselves whenever we choose. So we recast the wisdom of the great thinkers in the shape of our illusions. Shorn of their complexities, their politics, their grasp of the sheer arduousness of change, they stand before us now. They are shiny from their makeovers, they are fabulous and gorgeous, and they want us to know that we can have it all.

This line of thought has been much on my mind as of late.  We exist culturally within an environment that appears to offer the mirage we can have it all, and that we can have it all with no cost.  We can have what we can imagine.  What we miss however is one critical and embarrassingly overlooked word – discipline.  Imagination meshed with discipline moves us forward.  Imagination without discipline is meaningless fantasy.

I think of Jesus’ words in the same way that Morton notes the words of other great thinkers.  How many times am I prone to use His words as gauzy slogans vs. words with heft and meaning, calling and sacrifice?  In tending towards the former I use them more that way than I comfortably admit.  And a Christian faith without words of import rapidly becomes the simple syrup Morton writes of.

And yet when I go into the words of Jesus, when I truly find the gifted grace to preach them, people get it.  They get it!  We all want more somehow – more meaning, more call, more purpose, more sacrifice.  The discipline.