This Lent, we will be focusing on “Spiritual Disciplines” from a particularly Reformed perspective. When we hear the word “spirituality,” we might think of new-age-y exercises like meditation, yoga, or “mindfulness” exercises. When we hear the word “Reformed,” we might think of specific ideas like predestination, divine sovereignty, and amillennialism. It might seem strange to use the words “Reformed” and “Spirituality” together.
The Catholic tradition has a richness of “spiritual disciplines,” which Protestants are discovering anew and for which they are growing in their appreciation. But it’s also important to recognize what “spiritual disciplines” we have been practicing all along, perhaps in different ways which are unique to our historic and theological tradition.
The fact of the matter is that the Reformed tradition of Christianity has a long history of spiritual practices, and whether we’ve grown up in the Reformed tradition or are new to it, there are many biblically-inspired spiritual practices that we can learn from our tradition. Historically, Reformed Christians would probably have preferred the term “piety” over “spirituality,” but at their root the two words point to the same reality. Piety means “concerned with devotion/loyalty/goodness,” and spirituality is the “concern for spiritual (unseen/intangible/religious) things.” At it’s root, spirituality, even in a secular sense, is about soulcare, goodness, devotion to the metaphysical.
For Reformed Christians, the foundation of our spiritual practices is our confession of grace-filled assurance that we belong, body and soul, in life and in death to Jesus Christ, our faithful Saviour. The way this works itself out in our lives is the daily dying to sin and the being resurrected to love and delight in God through Christ; every day of our lives we live deeper into the story of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And it is a journey. Our spiritual life is never static. We are always changing, growing, deepening our longing for relationship with God. We are on a journey to Jesus. So let’s look at the equipment that our tradition gives us for walking this road well.