Easter - 2018

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Basis, Example, & Promise of Christian Spiritual Formation

Jesus is the Logos of God. Jesus as the word of God establishes all being into existence and grants the essence of life to all that exist. As I study the scriptures this reality becomes more and more apparent as the truth of Jesus as the word of God is weaved through-out each biblical story and teaching. Bradley Holt states: “Jesus is central to Christian spiritual formation. In short, Jesus is the basis, the example, and the promise of Christian spiritual formation." The understanding of the truth impresses one to live a rule of life based on the treasures of faith, hope, and love.

God has granted us the revelation of himself through the bible. This collection of books reminds us that in the Old Testament believers looked for the coming Messiah, and after Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection the New Testament believers looked back to the Messiah who had come. As a result of this historical review, it is certain that mankind's ability to achieve equality with God's will never be attainable. Thus, a messiah was necessary as one who would stand in our place to pay the price for sin. The message of Jesus is just as relevant today as it was throughout all history.

The ancient text reveal that God has a plan for a restored relationship with his creation. Holt comments on God's plan with the description: “It is the grace of God that initiates our relationship to God, and it is the grace of God that energizes us to activity, not to create the relationship but to exercise it, to give the relationship the attention that gives the possibility of growth." In other words, it is the creation's task to receive the favor and the gift. It is God's love that has initiated the relationship. The question becomes are we, as believers, willing to exercise the opportunity to develop a genuine relationship. 
A restored relationship with the Creator is established in three essential foundational realities that Jesus is the basis, the example, and the promise of Christian spiritual formation. Jesus refers to himself as the only means to get to the Father and that he is way, the truth, and the life. Living as Jesus lived is the basis for spiritual formation and is readily received, but hard to practice. The believer must put truth under this foundational basis and live as if life depends on the truth. It is the truth of Jesus where the foundational building blocks of spiritual formation stand, but the difficulty is in the practice of such truth in our everyday living. 
It is harder to follow the example of Jesus in our spiritual formation than believing in Jesus as the “basis” in our spiritual formation. The willingness to be sacrificial in life, in generosity, and in listening for the goal of spiritual formation is hard. This element is where the rubber meets the road as the saying states. Holt states it as, “Jesus provides an example of spiritual practice by integrating his inner and outer life.” Jesus was willing to give of himself so as to allow God to rule as the supreme father of his inner and outer life. Jesus was willing to get up early, he was willing to listen to God even in the hardness of the cross, and he was willing to act against the fleshly desires of sin while fighting against the evil in the world. It is his commitment to habitual practice of the spiritual disciplines that Jesus uses to demonstrate the power of God. The struggle emerges in the believers' heart because it is a struggle to create a habitual practice. 
The third element is Jesus as the promise of Christian spiritual formation. The promise in this context is a noun. It is to seek spiritual formation through which the risen Lord is alive and working among the believers throughout history. Jesus is the declared assurance that God will be faithful to bring to completion that which he started in the first place. Holt's summation is, “Jesus is able to be the promise because he is alive today and will bring the world its consummation.” Thus, this element that Jesus is the promise is that which makes spiritual formation a reality for those who seek to establish Jesus as the basis for spiritual formation, and are willing to habitually practice the example of Jesus in spiritual formation. 

Therefore, the ancient words of the scriptures are the basis, the example, and the promise of the Logos of God. That Jesus is the word of God in the flesh and is the revealed God as creator of all life. It is the study of the Word that brings to fruition the believer's spiritual formation. I seriously doubt that the average believer takes into account how important these elements are to the growth of faith, hope and love. Yet, the elements are present in the heart of every sincere believer. The lack of awareness does not diminish the importance of each of the elements in spiritual formation. 

As a matter of reflection, the awareness of these elements heightens one's abilities in habitually practicing the spiritual disciplines. Holt provides the example that, “prayer can open our ears to hear by directing our thoughts to God and by helping us to be willing to hear, sometimes when we are too distracted or too self-centered to want to hear. Willingness and attentiveness are the attitudes we want to develop as we approach the Word.” Thus, we develop our spiritual disciplines, as in this example of prayer, by committing to an habitual practice of the discipline for the purpose of spiritual formation. Those who heard from God and wrote the books of the bible were habitually committed and passed along for our modern study the opportunity to approach God through the Word, or Logos. The noteworthy by product is the growth in a willingness and attentiveness to God. The elements of Jesus as the basis, the example, and the promise of spiritual formation reveals Jesus in each of the books of the bible. My reflection on this reality heightens my awareness in the truth of Jesus as the word of God and that he is weaved throughout each biblical story and teaching for the purpose of developing my spiritual formation.

Seeking to grow and be closer ... You know I love ya, Don

Bradley P. Holt. Thirsty for God. (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 2005).

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