10 Daily Habits That Will Make You A More Enlightened Christian

Uncommon Ways to Become More Like Christ

Now here’s a word we don’t hear too often – enlightened. I wonder why? Sounds too Buddhist or New Agey? Is it due to its association with  the European intellectual movement (17th – 18th c.) emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition? (Oxford American Dictionary) I’m using it in its most basic understanding: greater knowledge and understanding of a subject or situation (in this case, God). The word describes a person becoming more spiritually aware; growing in wisdom. I’m using the word to describe Christians who haven’t cemented themselves to their current understanding of God. Nor are they where they were 10-40 years ago.

Recently on Facebook a friend announced that he was celebrating 50 years of using the same devotional guide book. I wondered why he hadn’t moved on. Remember Our Daily Bread? Good stuff. But for whom? After a while don’t you sense that God is inviting you to a deepening love relationship enlightened by simply being with Him?

Those that know this sense, are commonly in the process of developing these habits:

  1. Engaging in ordered prayer: This could be morning prayer liturgies or praying the hours throughout the day, saying the Jesus prayer or a phrase from the Psalms. Their heart and mind are focused on the Trinity for moments during the day as communion with God becomes the norm.
  2. Giving away something of value: Every day they contribute to the needs of others – no strings attached. These are usually small concrete actions for the good of others – helping the guy on the corner; giving a good tip to the server, an anonymous gift to an enemy, or “random” gift to a child;  donating to a nonprofit, or thoughtfully serving around the house.
  3. Acquiescing to scripture: They don’t analyze scripture but let scripture evaluate them. This is allowing scripture to dissect you instead of you dissecting scripture.
  4. Denying self: They control their appetites and passions primarily by fasting of some kind – from food, drink, TV, computer, radio, movies, books, buying and consuming – for some greater good like communing with God in prayer.
  5. Practicing thanksgiving: They are in the habit of saying “Thank you” for ALL things. They rarely complain. It’s a priority to learn contentment and be filled up with God.
  6. Engaging people: They live daily for others. They know life is not about themselves. They look for ways to support others – scanning the scene for opportunities to open a door, pick up a dropped item, let someone go ahead, or smile.
  7. Doing meaningful work: They develop practical ways to bloom where planted. They turn the mundane into prayer, sing in the struggles, see beauty in the hardship, and actually labor in the Lord.
  8. Living daily to know God: They take daily steps to figure out how to awaken and see God everywhere. Their experience of union with Christ is maturing. They are slowly learning to commune with God in ordinary life.
  9. Refraining from judging others: They daily pray, “keep a watch over my mouth” and take intentional steps to, at least, not speak judgment towards others. Their goal, by God’s grace, is to be as loving to others as He is to them.
  10. Exercising ego-shattering disciplines:  They continually ask for mercy. Daily they pray liturgically in solitude and silence. They prevent conversations to center on themselves. They fast, give generously, and pray constantly. They intentionally keep their opinions in check and are quick to acknowledge when they mess up. They listen well and talk little.

None of these habits address becoming enlightened directly. Growing in wisdom is a byproduct of communion with God.

To which habit are you most drawn? Which habit do you most need to develop? 

Dr. K 

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4 thoughts on “10 Daily Habits That Will Make You A More Enlightened Christian

  1. I had a hermeneutics professor once offer a pretty scathing review of modern systematic theology. In it he said we cannot rely solely on “systematic” understanding of Scripture for truth, because–while it may have some value for interpretation–it ultimately attempts to pseudo-scientifically dissect Scripture to understand Its innerworkings, and that professor would say, “anything you dissect, you must first kill.” The thought that we could objectify Holy Scripture and then DEFINE its borders seems a bit absurd when I type it out.

    Instead of molding the Scripture to fit our worldview, our understanding of the world must be molded BY Holy Scripture. In your words, Keith, we much acquiesce to Scripture. What a powerful thought. For that, I’ve really appreciated your guidance concerning Lectio Divina (I wanted to link a post here, but I couldn’t find one).

    Your 5th practice, practicing gratitude for ALL things, is possibly my toughest to swallow, though I agree it’s true. A friend recently said, “If we had all of God’s power, we’d change everything about our lives. But if we had all of His wisdom, we’d change nothing.” That is simultaneously encouraging and infuriating to my spirit. You mean to say that, all the “bad” things that happen to me were God’s mercy?! All the disappointments? All the very real abuses? The addictions? The brokenness? Somehow I’m supposed to practice gratitude?! No. Chance. In. Hell.

    And yet, each of those gut-wrenching painful moments–when I was the abused or the abuser or both–was a moment where the Father, Son, and Spirit was calling, wooing, being Love, being Mercy, being near. And His nearness is my good. Oh, that I could ever learn that, to be given the gift of understanding, just for that: His nearness (in ALL things) is my good. God have mercy.

    • Josh, I can add nothing. Thank you for sharing each of your substantial thoughts. The honesty with which you see yourself is refreshing though challenging (painful?) to write about. Thank you for your companionship on the journey. And…thanks be to God for all things. Keith

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