What is Christian Formation?

If you had a chance to throw a football like Patrick Mahomes, would you enjoy that opportunity?

What if you could look like the current most beautiful or handsome Hollywood performer?

If you aren’t interested in sports or beauty, what about having the business knowledge of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, or one of the others who have more money than small countries?

Bad News First

The bad news is that you have a better chance of winning the lottery every year until the day you die than being like one of my examples above.

The Good News

The good news is that God isn’t interested in helping you be like one of the most famous people in the world because he has a better gift to give you.

Instead of being like an earthly luminary, he wants to form you into the image of his Son.

Paul knew the value of this gift and wrote to the Galatians.

“My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4.19).

Paul knew the difference between earthly success and heavenly worth.

He wrote to the Romans: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.2).

God’s Greatest Gift

Because our minds have been twisted by the values of the world’s system, we see Paul’s words as difficult and unappealing.

Let’s try to see his message from a different angle.

— Would you like to know what Warren Buffett knows about money and investing? I don’t think anyone would consider it a harsh task to learn how to maximize their income from one of the world’s great investors.

— Why should we not be interested in learning from God what he thinks about life?

That’s what Paul said we could learn if we stop being conformed to the surrounding culture and allowed the Holy Spirit to renew our minds.

I sometimes have to talk to myself and remind myself that God’s wisdom is infinitely beyond that of humans.

Jesus’ Offer

Jesus told his followers, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10.10).

How does Jesus plan to give us the most blessed life possible?

He bestows the best life possible on us by forming our inner life and outward behavior into one like his.

Dallas Willard is right. The Jesus-kind-of-life is the best life possible because God enables us to live like the greatest Being to walk the face of the earth.

The Big Question

The question is whether we will settle for human achievement or strive to be like Jesus. What will it be?

Dallas Willard uses three concepts to describe God’s process of forming us into the likeness of Jesus.

(1) Vision – We obtain a vision of a Jesus-kind-of-life by immersing ourselves in the Gospels.

As we read the life and teachings of Jesus, they show us what living like Jesus is all about.

(2) Intention – I have read several books on nutritional eating, but often settle for a burger and fries.

Do we intend to live like Jesus? That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33).

(3) Means – Prayer, worship, Bible study, meeting with others, solitude, and the like create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can help us live a Jesus-kind-of-life.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have produced a video on this passage. It can be seen on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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