Having grown up Pentecostal (and still being one) the mentality of the “altar” was more cultural in my time growing up than in previous days, I think. By the time I was growing up, and in my early days of ministry, there were things “solved” at the altar. Lust, anger, bitterness… come and pray and get delivered and go home. But then next week… back you go…
The place of the altar is still important. The call is to be living sacrifices. There is a place for the altar in our lives… and it is daily.
One of the key areas we seem to refuse to learn in American Christianity is we can learn Christ. He isn’t “zapped” into us. We find patterns… liturgies… that allow good habits to sink and Christ to be formed in us.
As we talk about transforming the mind in our church, I am constantly reminded that we have to commit to learning. We have to commit to good habits. Somehow, we think Christianity is different than everything else.
I ask musicians all the time in my classes how long it takes them to get a 3-4 minute song “right” so they feel comfortable playing it in front of people. You know what I never hear? “Oh, it takes me about 5 minutes and I’m good.”
But you ask believers how long they take to learn Christ, and if that question doesn’t just get a blank stare, the answer may be, “Well, I think I had devotions for 5 minutes… ummm… last week.”
Musicians want to do well in their music, so they practice.
Athletes train for their sport. The higher you go in competition, the more you practice.
And we understand that with careers as well.
Yet… our faith walk?
“Five minutes here… five minutes there.”
And then we still think we’re somehow following Christ. Let us understand the need to learn. To practice. To put ourselves in position to learn more of him. Every day.
The priority needs to be clear. The priority needs to be practiced.
Dallas Willard put it in terms of three things we need to succeed at any endeavor:
Any one of those elements missing, and the rate of “success” drops off dramatically. Most likely it drops to zero.
We’ll look at this next Sunday in our worship service at Heights Church.