Welcome to the Spiritual Formation corner of Praying with the Eyes. Our prayer for you as you wander this space is that you will find fresh inspiration for cultivating intimacy with God and be deeply nourished by the gospel in your daily life.
So, what exactly does the term Spiritual Formation mean? Simply put, Spiritual Formation is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts conforming us into the likeness of Christ so that in every part of life we may reflect Christ and give God praise. Our God is always at work molding us into the beautiful likeness of His Son. 2 Peter 1:3- 4 says that because of the promises we have in Christ, we get to share in the divine nature, that is, the very character and heart of God! We get to become like HIM! Is that not an incredible gift?!
Before unwrapping this gift further, it is important to note that salvation comes before this kind of transformation, through faith in Christ alone. Salvation gives birth to transformation by the Holy Spirit poured into us and then He does the work in us. We do not transform ourselves to earn salvation or favor with God, like other religions require. In fact, God declares that we are already New Creations and counted as righteous before God because of the great exchange on the cross. Our sins went on Jesus and His righteous life was laid on us.
So, if we are already saved and are declared righteous, then why are we still in need of forming? Glad you asked!
Being declared righteous means we no longer will suffer ultimate punishment for our sins, (separation from God and all goodness), and we can now enjoy a relationship with our perfect God who can’t tolerate any evil. But we also know all too well that we still struggle with our sin, don’t we? We have this ghost from our sinner-self that hovers around and waits for a chance to take the helm. Indeed, without paying attention to our hearts and our God Who pursues us, this sinner is our autopilot. We have deeply ingrained habits and ways of coping on our own without God. There are idols we have been worshiping unawares that still grab at us and demand us to serve them instead of the One True God. In addition to this we live in a world full of messages contrary to God’s ways that can creep in and pull us away from the Truth. AND, if that ain’t enough, there is an enemy who seeks to steel our life away from God, whispering lies about Him and about us that cause us to lose hope and doubt God’s goodness. We need a steady diet of Truth and His presence to live the Life God gives us. Therein lies our need for continual transformation in which we learn to live more and more from our new life offered in the gospel and in harmony with God’s Word and desires.
How does this formation happen? Let’s look more closely at 2 Peter 1:3-4.
“But by His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life . . . And because of His glory and excellence He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share in the divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
The promises Peter mentions here are all gift-wrapped in the gospel. All that we are and are becoming flows from Who Christ is and what He has done for us by His power and because of His goodness. What grace! Because of this, any growth that occurs in us is deeply humbling. There is never a place for self-righteousness or comparing ourselves with others. Our worth is found in Christ’s love alone and not dependent on our own goodness. Being formed is not about trying harder to make ourselves better in our own power which only leads to despair or self-righteousness. It’s all about breathing the gospel, receiving His promises, and learning to relax into our Redeemers hands. As we do this, we will begin to move with His divine nature already at work in us. This is how we “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25) which results in us being formed increasingly into the image of Christ.
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises . . .” 1 Peter 1:5
I love the word “respond” here. He initiates, we are invited to respond. Now, in His great mercy, our God will use anything and everything in our lives to draw us to Himself. He will always work to form the most stubborn of us even as we fight Him or simply ignore Him. But, just like any good Father, He longs for us to trust Him and look to Him to gently lead us.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridal or they will not come to you.” Psalm 32:8-10
We’re His children, not donkeys! Of course, I’m sure you’ve never acted like a mule! Yeah. Me, neither. (Heehaw!)
So, if formation happens as we learn to respond to His promises for us, then what are some ways we can practice responding?
On Sundays, as a church community, we nourish our spiritual life by the teaching and study of the Word, communion, baptism, corporate worship, and encouraging one another in our faith. This is essential for the life of a believer. But what about Monday through Saturday?
In this section of Praying with the Eyes we will be offering many spiritual disciplines and exercises including prayer practices and scripture meditations. Several of these disciplines are classics and have been practiced throughout the history of the church. They are excellent ways to relax into our Potter’s hands and practice attending to the river of grace that flows continually through every day of our lives.
Have you heard an invitation stirring in your heart today? I hope you will join us as we explore these disciplines together and seek to deepen our intimacy with the One who always keeps His promises. This is meant to be a conversation, so feel free to share your experiences and ask any question you have in the comment section.
Are you ready to respond to His invitation? Me, too. Let’s go!
Several years ago, Jennifer Brukiewa set aside her professional stage career and gig as a Disney World actress/singer to pour into the lives of teens working along side her husband in youth ministry. Currently, as a retreat leader and Certified Spiritual Director, she is honored to create safe places for others to share their stories, joys and struggles and explore with them ways to listen for the heartbeat of God and “breathe the gospel” in their day to day life. She loves to garden, art journal, and admits to being slightly addicted to the BBC show Dr Who. Her home is in Elbert, CO where she lives with 1 dog, 3 cats, 14 chickens, 1 hermit crab, 2 rats, 3 daughters (15, 12 and 8) and her incredible husband of 22 years. She and her family have been members of Holy Cross Lutheran Church since 2007. To learn more about her ministry in Spiritual Direction go to www.attendinggrace.com