Monday, January 20, 2020

The Process of Spiritual Formation

It is essential that disciples of Jesus strive towards spiritual maturity.

Our faith cannot, and should not, remain static. Our faith, as well as our understanding of God's will, should continue to mature as we grow in our knowledge of God.

When we do not grow and we become content with our current experience means we will miss out on the life God created us to live.

The Apostle Peter was very aware of the importance of spiritual growth. In 2 Peter 3:17-18 writes:

You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. (NLT).
To neglect our spiritual formation makes us vulnerable to error. We cannot be content with what we already know, we need to be on our guard and hold tight to what we know. This provides the foundation that we need so we can strive towards maturity.

The writer of Hebrews shares a similar sentiment when he wrote:
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. (Hebrews 6:1, NLT)
Growth is the expectation in our walk with God. We cannot remain the same and remain with Jesus. Either we are moving with him or we are being led astray.

If spiritual formation is essential to being a Christian, how do we make it a part of our lives?

It takes intentional effort. Consider the encouragement the apostle Paul offered to the Colossians:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. 
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:6-10; NLT).

Paul taught that we need to be:

Consistent - Vs. 6
Faith in Jesus is not a one time decision. True faith is seen in our daily obedience to God's will. Our Christian spiritual formation begins the moment we trust Jesus. It continues as we consistently choose to trust him each and every day.

Concrete - Vs. 7
Being concrete is about holding on to truth. Jesus’ teachings are the firm foundation we need for life because they are truth.  We learn this truth through the study of Scripture, the relationships with other Christians, and the experience of living the Gospel. These things enable the roots of faith to be securely planted in our hearts and allow spiritual formation to take place.

Cautious - Vs. 8
This is about influence. We need to ask ourselves the question: Who is influencing me? When we lack discernment in our friends, reading material, and media consumption we put ourselves in danger of being led astray. A crucial part of our spiritual formation is being intentional about what feeds our minds and our hearts.

Spiritual formation is essential to our relationship with God. 

In fact, you could say that our spiritual formation is our relationship with God. As we mature spiritually our relationship with God is strengthened.

This is why we cannot leave our spiritual formation up to chance. We need to be disciplined in our spiritual formation so that we can become mature and experience the life God created us to live.

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