We are transformed as we apply Biblical truth to our mind and heart
2 Timothy 3:16-17 • Colossians 3:16
Our interaction with the Word of God must go beyond human intellectualism. Scripture has the capacity to become for us a holy ground on which we actually meet with God. The teaching and preaching of sound doctrine, adhering to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, is absolutely essential. Yet believing that the head and heart are to be integrated and not divorced, the goal is never about just obtaining more information. Transformation of mind and heart comes to us through wisdom and revelation. What we discover is that we need both.
To respond appropriately to God's Word, we must study it, but we also have to engage our hearts. We must strike a delicate balance between historical-critical engagement with Scripture and opening oneself to the Word's life-transforming potential. There should always be room for serious study that personalize the Scripture so that its truth can affect how we think, our attitudes, and how we live, our actions.
When we approach Scripture as the living Word of God, it invites us to pay attention to how God may be speaking to us in a fresh way and it becomes a place of encounter with Jesus.
We are transformed in relationship with one another
If you sense you are living in this stage of your journey, here are some suggestions and
options you might be interested in trying as you seek to make the most of our intentional
spiritual journey to Christlikeness.
Let the journey begin!
The call to follow Christ is also a call to be transformed into His image. Thus, kingdom living
begins in the call to every believer to become an apprentice of Jesus, where by grace and by
choice we accept Jesus’ invitation to keep company with him…that we might become like him
become like Christ by interaction with Christ himself. Taking on the character of Christ then, being spiritually formed, flows from an ongoing interaction with Christ, through the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, to receive from God the life we cannot birth in ourselves.
The fact is we can’t change our own hearts. We can’t control, manage, or dictate spiritual reality in our lives. The active agent in the transformation process is the Holy Spirit, who regenerates, enlightens, motivates, and empowers believers in their inner being by his presence to grow us in our likeness to Christ. On the other hand, it is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a random or unintentional way.
Although we cannot by direct effort change our heart, we are invited to participate with God in our transformation. We do this by a purposeful pattern of life…of intentionally placing ourselves in environments where we create the conditions in our lives so as to train our hearts to recognize and surrender to the already ongoing, maturing and healing presence of the Holy Spirit, who is shaping us to be like Jesus and bringing about God’s Kingdom purposes and mission.
For example, if you were asked to list people, places or events that were instrumental in your spiritual development, what are some of those things you would list? More than likely it would look something like this: a friend who took you “under wing” as a spiritual mentor, a retreat place or summer camp, a book, a missions trip, Scripture, an altar experience, cancer, fasting, a pastor, serving in a soup kitchen, etc. All of these “environments” provided the opportunity for you to open your heart to the transforming presence and work of the Holy Spirit in your life. If you'd like to know more, listen to the two sermons linked below.
"I believe in God, but I am not sure about Christ.
My faith is not a significant part of my life."
EMBRACING ENVIRONMENTS FOR TRANSFORMATION
The good news is there are some natural “places” of transformation already embedded in our lives and our church that become opportunities to encounter Jesus’ transforming presence. All of the people, places, and/or events you listed earlier can be organized into five environments that provide opportunities to encounter Jesus: personal, relational, intellectual, missional, and experiential. These five environments can be identified by the acrostic PRIME. Click on the links below to read more about each environment.
The intentional practice of a spiritual discipline such as scripture reading, prayer, solitude, or fasting are environments where we train our hearts to remain open and surrendered to the fresh, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. They are not "spiritual principles" or "moral guidelines" we perform as a way to go about improving our condition. They are not a formula we follow so we can harness divine favor or look godly.
They are indispensable to a life of faith, but only to the degree that they allow us to "keep company" or connect with God. Often it is through a spiritual discipline that we make space in our lives for God to birth in us what we cannot do ourselves. Transformation is entirely by grace (the work of the Spirit), but it requires our active, intentional participation through regular spiritual practices.
To respond appropriately to God's Word, we must study it, but we also have to engage our hearts. This means discovering how to meet God through study, memorization and prayerful engagement with Scripture, and it will take your love for God to a deeper and more intimate level.
Many think spiritual formation is about feeding our souls for the sake of well-being. On the contrary, it is intensely practical. The fuller life in Christ comes not only as we give attention to our own growth, but largely as we give ourselves away. As we align ourselves with the person and work of Christ - in becoming his disciples - our actions naturally flow out of hearts like his in demonstration of the love that has shaped us. In fact, Christ is not fully formed in us until it finds its greatest expression in love and sacrificial service for others. Compassionate acts come out of hearts of compassion. Acts of compassion cannot just be programs that come and go, they must become the stuff of our everyday lives as God's people on mission.
Our faith must become an embodied faith, where our witness to the world is based more on the weight of our actions than the strength of our arguments. We are not elected for privilege, but for service; to live not as exclusive beneficiaries of God's saving work, but as bearers of this grace to the rest of the world.
Jesus' transformative presence is rooted in relationship with God and one another. Therefore being formed in Christlikeness for kingdom purposes is always lived out and made complete in community. Communities of grace define who we are and how we live in trust, love, grace, humility, dignity, and justice. Biblical truths and messages are hammered out on the anvil of faithful community living...in an environment of ongoing nurture through relationships of trust, vulnerability, modeling, and accountability.
We cannot grow fully into Christ's image apart from regular, sometimes difficult and messy, engagement with other Christ followers in which our jealousies, irritations, and resentments are confronted and the virtues of patience, love, and forgiveness are given regular opportunities to be practiced.
While the process of spiritual formation is lifelong, there are moments and places of encounter with Jesus that transform us. Whether it's in corporate worship, on a mountaintop, a majestic cathedral, an ongoing personal trial, or unexplained suffering, there are moments of encounter with the divine that defy explanation and yet mark us...and we are never the same again.