Understanding “subversive habits” starts with the recognition that we are habitual people. Every day, we engage in habits and practices that either increase or decrease the position of the Scriptural Story in our hearts. Here is the question we must ask: What practices or habits would have the effect of lifting up the Scriptural Story while also demoting lesser stories?
We’ve come to the end of a series on the stories we live by and the habits that can help us keep the Scriptural Story at the forefront. I hope these reflections have given you some direction in regards to spiritual disciplines that can aid you in spiritual growth.
We began this series by considering one of the biggest challenges facing the church in the West today: we can easily adopt two or three spiritual practices as mere add-ons to the story we see ourselves in. But what if religious activities and spiritual disciplines look like Christian faithfulness, when in reality the primary story we see ourselves in—the narrative that gives the most meaning and significance to our lives—is the same as our unbelieving neighbors?
What is the primary story we see ourselves in? That is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves.
What should be the story that gives shape and significance to the life of a Christian? The Scriptural Story. There are two aspects of the big Story that both deserve our attention, one public and one personal.
The public side of the Story is the cosmic, universal truth of the gospel: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life in our place, died on the cross for our sins, rose again to launch God’s new creation, and has now been exalted as Lord of the world. The public side of the Story—the universal truth of the gospel—should be at the heart of the church’s liturgy and practice. We announce what has happened and where the world is headed.
The personal side of the Scriptural Story shows up in how the gospel alters our life story. When we trust in Christ, the new story begins, a narrative in which we are gradually being remade into the image of Jesus. It is a story of becoming like Christ. This is the personal side of the gospel—that Christ died for you and me personally, and that God has promised to make us more and more like our Savior.
This means that “setbacks” and “steps forward” must be viewed in light of our ultimate purpose on earth: to reflect the glory and goodness of the God who created us and the Savior who redeemed us. The personal side of the Scriptural Story for the individual Christian is a journey toward greater holiness. It is a story of being conformed into the image of Christ through the power of the Spirit.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to confess the truth of the Scriptural Story while our attitudes and actions show we are driven by the narrative drama of a different story. What can counter this spiritual complacency and the lesser stories we live by? One answer is suffering.