October Reflection by LuAnn Roberson - Put on Your Habit
Colossians 3:12 (NIV) “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Colossians 3:14 (MSG) “Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Ok, truth be told: when I was a young girl I wanted to be a nun ― my third choice after rodeo queen and bus hostess. I liked the outfit.
The habits the sisters wore seemed to command respect. Or perhaps fear for some of us. The habit was a symbol of their calling and their commitment to a way of life and to a community to which they belonged.
After further research, I naively concluded that those in religious communities lived very rigid lives, had to follow an impossible list of rules and had no fun or individual freedom. The habit became, for me, a symbol of the external habits or practices the sisters performed out of obligation.
However, in reality, their rhythms of life ― prayer, study, work, service ― were structured to foster internal habits to keep them close to their loving Shepherd; a way of “praying without ceasing” (1Thess 5:16).
The habit may symbolize true inner commitment and godliness, or, as we have tragically come to understand, can potentially be merely a costume, concealing a less-than-honorable heart.
Whether or not we are vowed to a religious order, we who follow Jesus wear a habit ― an internal one. Every morning, the habit I put on is the way I wear my day. My habit is the soul rhythm of my daily life, simple acts that I choose to live by, spiritual practices that draw me closer to Christ. These practices help me understand His deep love for me and, ultimately, help me wear Christ within my community.
Tom Ashbrook, in his book Mansions of The Heart, helps us see this internal/external habit analogy as a first- and second-order calling in our spiritual lives.
First-order calling: Jesus calls us into a personal relationship of love with God. A relationship that enables us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matt.22:37).
Second-order calling: Jesus says, “Follow me.” (Matt 4:19) We're able to follow Jesus because we have experienced His love. “We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19)
We live out our second-order calling because our hearts are continually being transformed through our first-order calling…
… a deepening intimacy with God into the likeness of Jesus that allows us to love others from the authentic outpouring of God’s love.
If we confuse our callings and give more attention to our second-order calling, we can find ourselves serving others and doing and going, but forgetting our “first love,’’ as Jesus reminded the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:3-5). When that happens:
We risk wearing an external habit, with nothing underneath ― like an uncomfortable, ill-fitting costume in a high school play.
We would do well to notice when we feel spiritually worn out, too busy to be with God, stuck or just hungry for more.
Perhaps we need some new internal habits that remind us and bring us back to our first-order calling: chosen by God, holy, and deeply loved. (Colossians 3:12) Then the habit that is reflected externally will be true and honoring to God.
Possibly it is time to stop and look at your spiritual way of life. Ask yourself: When I greet the morning, how do I want to “wear my day?” What’s my habit for meeting Christ every day? Yes, He longs to – and will meet you.
Here’s one idea you might want to consider as a new internal habit.
If you reach for a devotional or your Bible out of an old habit, instead simply reach first for Jesus. Spend a few quiet moments just being still with Him, trusting that all is well and He is with you. No words yet, just be with Him.
To start, spend 5-20 minutes in this quiet place. THEN reach for the Bible or devotional and read it WITH Him, listening to Him.
Try reading shorter portions of scripture and pondering with God, rather than trying to race through. Let the scriptures point you to Him. As Jesus told the Jewish leaders, “You study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. They are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39).
The Scriptures are full of invitations to wear habits that honor God, and they begin with the internal habits ― the first-order of a love relationship with God.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
We tend to focus on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience ― qualities we need to “work on.” What if, instead, we lived out of being chosen, holy and dearly loved? And that may begin with a period of rest. Resting in what God says about you.
Physical, emotional, and spiritual rest is possible when you've rested in God's love. From that rest as the beloved, will flow the heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience as God transforms you into the image of His Son.
Even within the church, it is rare, but a beautiful thing to meet someone who has put on the habit of Christ-likeness, who lives out of love.
Our culture seems full of hurt, anger, accusations, and disrespect. As followers of Jesus, let us practice the habits that draw us near to His heart, those practices that help us tend to our souls: bringing forgiveness, healing, celebration, gratitude, and deep soul refreshment. And, as a result, let us put on our habit of love – as we have been loved.
May our habits be noticed by those around us, identifying us as followers of the great healer Jesus, our Shepherd, the One who gave His life for us. May His love through us draw others and invite them to join in.
If you are interested in discovering some new habits/practices that might widen your view of God’s love for you, I would be glad to hear from you.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Take some time to check your spiritual wardrobe. Notice which habits fit you well and which are life-draining. Which might be discarded or replaced?
Prayerfully consider what is spiritually important to you in the way you live.
How do you respond to the scripture that says you are chosen of God, holy and dearly loved?
Do you wear your habit all day?
Do you find yourself putting the second-order calling in the first place? Doing before being?
Is there something God may be inviting you to let go of so that you can instead embrace a more life-giving way of life?