Spiritual Disciplines Transcending/Embracing World Religions

As I read my morning reflection I was captivated by a phrase attributed to Lao Tzu, and how it applies directly to my Christian faith and understanding of the Spiritual Disciplines:

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the Source of Being.


lao tzu Here is  Christian author Richard Foster’s list of Spiritual Disciplines, from his best selling book: Celebration of Discipline.

1. The Inward Disciplines: MEDITATION, PRAYER, FASTING, STUDY.
2. The Outward Disciplines (inward realities resulting in outward lifestyles): SIMPLICITY, SOLITUDE, SUBMISSION, SERVICE.

I love this simple, profound, biblical, and across the board summation of many world religions. But the simple quote of Lao Tzu’s, an ancient Chinese philosopher and poet who lived 600 years before Christ, encompasses the inward, outward, and corporate disciplines.

It’s confusing to me how so many are willing to embrace and use a quote by Lao Tzu that doesn’t sound too religious or spiritual such as:

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But yet conservative Christians ~ even parish pastors of my own family and extended family ~ shout heresy if I quote a non Christian spiritual source that shares strongly what Jesus and the disciples taught and lived. I understand the “slippery slope” of the camel getting it’s nose under the tent and before long he is inside the tent when it comes to compromising ones beliefs. I understand because I’ve been “way into” both sides, from attending Christian Lutheran worship services and Hindu Hare Krishna temple services on the same Sunday when I lived in Hawaii. And the theological pendulum also swung the other way for me as a full time Lutheran Church ~ Missouri Synod pastor for 25 years.

Even recently, family members feel that if I post a Hindu truth on FaceBook, though it strongly parallels Christ’s teaching, well then, maybe my salvation is to be questioned. Or, from another family pastor, if I post on FaceBook a compassionate response to a gay NFL football player by a newscaster from Dallas, well then, I’m questioned as to how I can support gay rights. My AA sponsor has a great statement and creed which he lives by: “Take what works and leave the rest.” Here’s another quote by Lao Tzu that can be interpreted from the conservative right as me-god-centered, and I understand that, as I used to think and preach that way, but as I am growing spiritually, it speaks of the Spirit of Christ in me, transforming me:

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Thank You God, Thank You Holy Spirit  that we can truly take all you give us to reach out with love and truth to as many others as possible ~ especially those who are not like us ~ believing differently, and use it to be personally changed.


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