Theme of the Week: Christ Formed in You
Bible Verse: Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 ESV
Scripture Reading: John 15:1-2, 16; 1 Peter 2:1-2; 2Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:1-22
The goal of spiritual formation is not simply to refrain from sin. God intends so much more for you. His goal is to restore his image within you by making you more and more like Jesus. Spiritual growth involves the growth of grace in your soul as you mature in likeness to Christ.
Holly and I have three children, Stephen, Matthew, and Susannah. Each one of them has been slow in learning to walk. Our three are quite verbal, however, picking up words and phrases quickly. But what’s okay in human development is not nearly so okay in the Christian life. Like my children, believers usually learn to “talk” before they can “walk.” They pick up Christian lingo quickly. Even as new converts, Christians can often spout Bible verses, debate theology, and pray in Christianese.
Learning to walk in obedience, however, is a slower process. And genuine spiritual growth is not measured in how well we talk, but in how faithfully we walk with Jesus. (Eph. 2:1; 2:10).
The metaphor of walking teaches us three important things about spiritual growth. It is a lifelong, active, imitation of Jesus.
First, walk underscores the lifelong nature of spiritual growth. Spiritual formation doesn’t happen over a long weekend, but through the course of many months and years. The Christian life is not a hundred-yard dash, but the journey of a lifetime.
Second, growing in grace requires our participation and effort. As Dallas Willard writes, “Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort.”5 We are saved by grace, not meritorious works. But that doesn’t mean we are passive in our transformation. Children must learn to walk as they develop and mature into healthy adults. So must we.
Third, Jesus is the example we follow. We imitate Jesus by walking in love (Eph. 5:2; cf. Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:6; 1 John 2:6). His life is the pattern for ours. “Holiness is the healthy growth of morally misshapen humans toward the moral image of Jesus Christ, the perfect man,” writes J. I. Packer1. Spiritual transformation is the restoration of the image of God within us as we increasingly become like Jesus.
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