A CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP/SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Equipping us to become and be Jesus' disciples
"Come follow Me,"
"Establish my footsteps in Your Word."
In the original biblical texts, the term used for disciple refers to someone who is a learner or follower who serves as an apprentice under the tutelage of a master. The apostles are great examples of this relationship between a student and master: They followed Jesus the Lord, the master teacher and the model of Christian faith, learning from His words and deeds and growing through the practical, hands on training He facilitated.
Spiritual Formation is the part of discipleship that aids a person to acquire:
* Christian Faith
(Understood as a particular perception of life and our lives)
* Christian Character
(Understood as identity and appropriate behavioral dispositions)
* Christian Consciousness
(Understood as that interior subjective awareness or temperament
that predisposes persons to particular experiences)
Spiritual formation has a deeper dimension than discipleship.
James Houston defines spirituality as, "The state of a deep relationship with God"
Discipleship is aimed at equipping the believer for ministry. Character development works at Christian integrity and behavior, but Spiritual Formation targets much more: the lifelong transformation of the whole person into the image of Christ, in the context of a deep relationship with God.
Robert Mulholland Jr. said:
"Spiritual formation is not an option! The inescapable conclusion is that life itself is a process of Spiritual development. The only choice we have is whether the growth moves us towards wholeness in Jesus Christ or an increasing dehumanized and destructive mode of being."
Goal of Spiritual Formation:
"Relationship (intimacy) with God in Christ"
Robert Mulholland Jr. concludes:
The Christian journey, therefore, is an intentional and continual commitment to a lifelong process of growth towards wholeness in Christ. It is a process of "growing up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ." (Eph. 4:15), until we "attain to… mature personhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
It is for this purpose that God is present and active in every moment of our lives.
Spiritual Formation Results in Part:
* From obedience and faithfulness to God.
* Comes only from a positive response to God's call to obedience
God does not treat His people as robots. He does not force His desires or His ways upon us. The necessity of human response to God's gracious invitation to walk with Him hand in hand is:
* To obey Him,
* To live according to Scripture
These responses appear everywhere throughout Scripture. In these ways God makes us more and more like His Son.
Hindrances to Discipleship
From: Barna Research Group
* Two-thirds said they were just too busy to give the process the time
* One-quarter cited a general lack of interest or motivation
* One-tenth said they suffered from personal limitations such
as emotional or financial problems.
All of them underscore one problem: a lack of passion to be godly.
Such a Deficiency Raises Questions as to:
How sincere people are about their faith
How real their relationship is with Christ
How they understand the values of heaven opposed to those on earth.
Are we all to busy when Jesus comes along and asks us to get serious about spiritual growth? We may give intellectual assent to the idea, but when push comes to shove our schedules are already bloated with other, more important tasks, opportunities, and responsibilities. We have passion, but it is not a passion for the matters of God.
Chief barrier to effective discipleship is not that people do not have the ability to become spiritually mature, but they lack:
In the end becoming a disciple and spiritual formation boils down to personal priorities. For most of us, regardless of our intellectual assent to the importance of Christian growth, our passion lies elsewhere - and our schedules and energy follow those passions.
Are you a Disciple (allowing God to transform you into His image) or just a believer?
That can be a life-changing question for us. Too many Christians have settled for being just believers. They have plateaued at a lower level than Jesus intended when He gave the Great Commission to "Go therefore and make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you," (Matt. 28:19-29).
Too many Christians have spiritual development that falls significantly short of their chronological spiritual age. In simple terms, time has passed but we have not grown up. This is not new…as the author of Hebrews wrote,
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the Word of righteousness, for he is an infant…therefore leaving the elementary teaching…let us press on to maturity," (Hebrews 5:12-6:1).
Too many Christians do not live their lives in adherence to the basic truths of God's Word. It is estimated that 10% or less of believers, live as true followers of Christ.
We offer the following opportunities to further your growth in the body of Christ.
Adult Christian Education
Why would anyone want to move from a believer to a disciple?
The love of God draws us to follow Jesus. The proof of our love for God is our demonstration of obedience to Him. "Obey me, and I will be Your God and you will be my people. Walk in the ways I command you, that it may go well with you." (Jeremiah 7:23) The word "walks" signifies the whole activity of the Christian's life. Two results of obeying God's truth: "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1:21)
What Blessings are reserved for the obedient Christian?
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."
"Your are my friends if you do what I command."
"But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him".
(1 John 2:5)