This impulse appears in broader Christian culture. The title of a book by the bestselling author of Boundaries (Zondervan, 2002) says it all: Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Arenâ€™t (Zondervan, 1996). Weâ€™ve learned to protect ourselves with spiritual gifts inventories: â€œIâ€™m afraid I canâ€™t help in the youth group; itâ€™s not my gift.â€ We consider things edifying if they reinforce what we think, not if they unsettle us (I had this conversation with Christians concerning Pedro the Lion.)
Churches, too, can further insulate their members by catering to these tendencies. Instead of encouraging parishioners to submit to the congregation, an elder, or mentor, churches often teach them to self-diagnose and self-prescribe their spiritual formation regimen. Or they offer a variety of service times and styles to prevent congregants from making difficult (and formative) decisions about priorities.
When you walk without the insulation of shoes, you donâ€™t have the privilege of deciding when to tread rocky ground or cool mud or warm sand. But thatâ€™s just what makes our feet resilient. We take the rough terrain when it comes and learn balance in the process. Similarly, if I lived without spiritual insulation, I would learn balance by adjusting my stride to account for difficulties when they arise, not by avoiding them until Iâ€™m ready to face them. My spiritual feet would toughen and I would be healthier for it.
Whatâ€™s the solution? Spiritual disciplines are a great place to start. We can slip off our shoes and maneuver uncomfortable ground through fasting, silence, and giving. Over timeâ€”according to the saints who do this sort of thingâ€”you find the periods of discipline more natural than indulgence, and your feet stay bare more often.
You Walk (with God) Wrong | Out of Ur