One of the healthiest practices we can do in our spiritual walk is to look at the life of Jesus and take practical steps to be more like Him. After all, that is what a Christian is - "little Christ" or imitator of Christ. The root of the word "disciple" is to be a learner. Or to be continually learning and growing in being like Jesus. Ancient rabbis had a statement for true discipleship - "May you be covered by the dust of your master's sandals." Talk about walking closely with someone. Thank goodness we have four Gospels dedicated to showing us what Jesus was really like when he walked the earth.
It's interesting, because discipleship books tend to be one-sided when it comes to spiritual discipline and practices. Usually emphasizing solitude, silence, prayer, meekeness and sacrifice. When we take a step back and look at the whole of the four Gospels, is this really what we see from Jesus?
In fact, Jesus often does both sides of the coin:
Yes, solitude, but also community - Jesus often parties with sinners, goes everywhere with his twelve or more disciples and can never seem to get away from crowds. To put it into perspective, Jesus seems to have spent 90% of his time in communal living, and 10% hiding away to pray. We too, should have a mix of solitude and community.
Yes, silence, but also noise - Jesus was constantly teaching the crowds and conversing with his disciples. I'm not sure if very few people have lived a more busy, noisy life than Jesus. He had a hard time taking a break from all the conversations.
Yes, prayer, but also busy-ness - Jesus not only taught the crowds, mentored the disciples, did great miracles and turned water into wine, but He also traveled by foot long distances going from town to town. Even though he never traveled out of country, he was constantly on the go.
Yes, meek, but also wild - Jesus is often pictured by US churchgoers as "meek and mild" from the old Christmas hymn, but a reading of His life gives a very different picture. Jesus sometimes rebuked spiritual leaders to their face and in front of a crowd of people! He entered the temple two different times and threw over tables of items being sold and scattered the crowd. He even left His parents worried at where He was as a teenager.
Yes, sacrifice, but also celebration - Jesus is known for the most beautiful and holy moment in all the world, when He gave His life on the cross for our sins. He knew the cross was coming all along. He was constantly telling his disciples about it beforehand. But sometimes we forget the excitement of Jesus' life. He was having constant moments of God's favor - Holy Spirit descending on Him at His baptism by John. God's Presence coming down like a cloud and walking with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. And we see Jesus at parties and wedding celebrations too. He was constantly seeing great miracles - people rejoiced wherever He went as their friends and relatives were healed and set free. Jesus enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, like a fig on a tree. John Ortberg shares about the spiritual discipline of celebration in his book The Life You've Always Wanted that the word "holidays" comes from the ancient words "holy days," drawing from the ancient Jewish practice of celebrations and feasts throughout the year as a reminder of God's blessing and presence in their lives. We too, need celebrations and feasts as spiritual practices!
Let's do our best to walk closely with our Lord in the balance and mixture of His practices.