Intention is needed if we are going to make improvements in our lives. This is true in whatever we do, and that includes spiritual formation. Spiritual formation requires us to make the choice to pursue spiritual maturity.
In my journey of spiritual formation the workbook Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby played a significant role. In Experiencing God Blackaby wrote; “Adjustments prepare you for obedience. You cannot continue life as usual or stay where you are, and go with God at the same time. That is true throughout Scripture.” (p. 127)
This is a key point that Blackaby makes throughout Experiencing God. For us to experience spiritual formation requires us to adjust our lives to God’s will. It is not enough to know correct doctrine or simply go to Church each Sunday. What is required is for us to obey God and follow Jesus wherever He leads us.
The road of spiritual formation is not hard to find, but it is difficult to follow. The adjustments God expects us to make are not always easy. There will be many times when they won’t make sense to us. Then again we need to remember that God’s way is not our way.
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher what good things must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “Only God is good. But to answer your question, you can receive eternal life if you keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22; NLT)
This is one person in the New Testament I believe American Christians can relate to. He is rich and many of us have more wealth than most people in the world. The young man was also religious. This is seen in the fact that he claimed to have kept the commandments. Many of us are religious and we try to live our lives by faith.
The problem the young man had was materialism. He trusted in his possessions and wealth to provide security for his life. That is where many of us are. We don’t know what it is like to truly depend on God for our “daily bread,” our wealth is usually enough to provide for what we need. We find security in this reality.
The young man got stuck in his journey of spiritual formation. He knew that God had more for him, but he wasn’t willing to take that next step. His love for the security that his wealth provided for him was greater than his love for God and his desire to become the person God created him to be.
This is where we discover the key to spiritual formation. It is obedience. We need to make adjustments to the way we live our lives. If we are unwilling to adjust our lives then it doesn’t matter what books we read or how much we attend church, because if we do not act on the truth that we know, then more truth will not make a difference.
Don’t get me wrong, we need to be involved in a small group of Christians, to study the Bible, and to read the thoughts of other Christians, because it is often through these things that God reveals His will for our lives. The key is once God has revealed His will then we need to obey. Spiritual formation is found on the other side of obedience.
Spiritual formation is not a product of methods and programs, but it is a product of faith. True faith is lived out in obedience.
When we decide to follow Jesus, to accept the call He has placed on our lives, then we continue on with our spiritual formation. Obedience is the key to our spiritual formation.