In a way it is a surprise and a relief that Study is considered a spiritual discipline in Foster’s ‘Celebration of Discipline’. Having benefited from a good education, to study a book, or a play, or the world around me, has been ingrained as just a normal part of growing up. But Foster continues to challenge us in our Christian living by having us transform and renew our mind.
I am aware that many books or films, for example, that I read or watch are just for that moment. Once finished, I move on to the next (and for the most part, that is quite appropriate and even more than some of them deserve!) If I were intending to create my own film for instance, I would learn my craft by watching a master like Ozu or Hitchcock, scene by scene if necessary and then applying what I’d learnt. In reading Foster’s book, I have read and re-read the same chapters, understanding and interpreting what has been written so that I can better apply his insights into more godly living.
Like all the disciplines, Study is not just an object in and of itself. It is not about storing up great multitudes of knowledge or trying to outsmart the next person. The repetition, concentration, comprehension and reflection of the object of our study merely become the tools to gaining this discipline. The focus remains on knowing who we are through Jesus and living our lives for God. It is through Jesus that we come to know we are saved and are given the grace to live with humility and purpose.
6 The discipline of Confession