Do our disciplines/habits reflect what we truly love?
In the end, does what we love win? Or do habits/rituals win?
Is the old adage what we love wins, really true? I don’t know. I know a lot of people who have things that they HATE ruling their life. Why is that? Does that mean that they secretly love doing it, or does it mean that they are enslaved to specific habits? Habits are strange things after all.
Charles Duhigg in his book called The Power of Habit speaks to how much of our life is habituated. In many ways habits display the genius of the human being. Think about it. Our bodies have the capacity to form habits so that we don’t have to consciously rethink everything every moment of our lives. It’s like God designed our bodies to exist on auto-pilot much of the time. What a wonderful gift that I don’t have to remember consciously how to ride my bike, or brush my teeth or turn on my blinker for a right hand turn. I just…do it. It just happens without thought or much intention. And, in a large sense, that brings us great freedom.
Unless, of course my body has made a habit out of eating a row of Oreos a day. Or viewing porn…or gossiping…or taking an addictive medication. Ouch!! Now the power of habits that brings great freedom brings great slavery…not to mention sorrow, guilt, and unhealthy lives. And, one thing that Duhigg points out through the help of MRI’s and neuro-technology is that it’s 100% clear that old habits never die, they can only be replaced…we can re-write new habits over the old ones…but the old ones never go away. Habits are strange things.
So, does what we love win? Or, do our habits win?
What’s winning in your life right now?
It was Jesus who said, “If you LOVE me you will keep my commandments.” And, we cry out, “Jesus, I do love you, but it’s so darn hard to change!”
Jesus here makes it pretty clear that love wins. If we love Him, we’ll look like him. Pretty convincing argument.
But, what kind of love wins? Maybe what Jesus is getting at here is that love is not merely a desire, a feeling or a sentiment. Maybe the LOVE Jesus speaks of here, is shaped as much by habit/discipline as desire. In our sentimental and highly sexualized culture, love is thought of as erotic, romantic desire. Consequently, discipline and love are not used often in the same sentence. Love and discipline we imagine are about as much alike as velvet and sandpaper.
The kind of love that our culture offers and puts on display does not have the power to kill our habits. That’s why addictions are winning the day in our culture. We’re not playing games here. Our habits are one of the most deeply embedded parts of us.
Yet, for the disciple, the love of Christ is embedded deeper still. And, the love he holds out and offers for our embrace is a radically different kind of love than our culture offers. Christ’s love for us, while sourced in desire, was only consummated by means of intense discipline. The love of God in Jesus Christ is not a flimsy heart-shaped love sourced sentiment, but but a cross-shaped love forged through sacrifice.
So, the answer to the question, “does love win?” is: it depends on how you define love.
If you define love in the thin way of our culture, then my assessment is there’s no chance love wins. Your habits do. You will be enslaved by your habits till the day you die. However, if you define love like Jesus does, then maybe the old adage “what you love, wins” really is true.