Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spiritual Formation - Only God Can Do It

The first stage is spiritual formation and transformation is: recognition of how needy we are. I need to be changed. I need to be different. There are things in me that need to be burned away. I am not all that I need to be in Christ.

I do not think this can be forced on a person, or that sermons and lectures and unasked for advice will work. It comes, mostly I think, as a revelation, as an epiphany, from God. When this happens, the recipient of the revelation is in a good place to be changed.

Stage two is: recognition of the gap between myself and Christ. This is recognition of the magnitude of the transformation, which is: that Christ be formed in us. (Gal. 4:19)

Stage three is the realization that: I cannot  change myself. I cannot self-transform. No amount of human striving and effort can serve to morph my spirit into Jesus-likeness, just as no amount of training and practicing could shape me into Michael Jordan-esqueness. Were that to actually happen, God would get the credit.

The gap between myself and Christ is far greater than the gap between my basketball and ability and that of a Michael Jordan. When I realize this, it could cause me to despair, but only if the only option for personal transformation is my own will power and effort. Yet there is another option. God could do it. God, who made the heavens and the earth, could transform my heart into a heart like Christ's. God could "form Christ in me." God could change the shape of my heart from this-worldliness to a heart and mind renewed in Christ. (Romans 12:1-2)

So we have hope! While we are unable to effect the needed transformation, God surely is able. It is this hope, based on the revelation of our deep need and the gap between us and the holiness ('differentness") of Christ that brings us to the inexorable, logical conclusion that is our fourth stage of spiritual transformation.