Monday, July 03, 2006

Spiritual Formation

Christians, among other things, are told to tell others about our God. Having told them, we are to train them in the way of our God. Individual Christians, through mentoring and friendship, as well as the church through its ministries of grace and teaching, contribute to the maturing and growth of disciples. Paul’s admonition that we should allow God to transform us into His likeness indicates the individual disciple’s part in becoming Christlike.

Spiritual formation is an on-going, life-long pursuit and service for ourselves and others. The demand of spiritual formation affect every aspect of our lives – personal, marital, familial, vocational. If the Christian life, if our submission to God, if our transformation, is worth anything, it must include our very being.

Spiritual formation then is not something else Christians do. We don’t go to church, engage in ministry, worship God, and then do some spiritual formation work. Rather, like all these others, spiritual formation is what we are about, it is our life. But more than the others, spiritual formation gives the others their legitimacy. If we are not transformed, if we are not being transformed, the other things we do are pointless.

Much of Paul’s pastoral writings and all of Jesus’ teaching are aimed at transforming people’s lives, calling us and exampling for us the surrendering of self, and what God-following looks like. As is obvious, spiritual formation is not new, and in fact goes far behind the coming of Jesus on this earth. God has always wanted His followers to be like Him. Micah 6.6-8 sums up what God wants from His followers and summarizes the teachings in the Old and New Testaments including those from Jesus and Paul. It reads something like this: “And what does the Lord require of you? He has shown you oh man: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Spiritual formation is simply the process through which we approach God’s expectations for us. The result of spiritual formation is comprehensive Godlike lives lived in submission to Him.

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