The Need for Spiritual Discipline/Formation/Growth
May you realize that you live in God’s Kingdom, and desire greatly to see its beauty!
I am on the road this morning, with a friend as he begins his journey towards being ordained into the ministry. During the journey by planes, (although it seemed we walked nearly that far!) I came across this in my reading.
“It is quite common to find, even among apparently responsible and devout Catholics, the error of thinking that they’re only obliged to carry out their familial and religious duties. They seldom want to hear any mention of civic duties. The problem is not selfishness; it’s simply a lack of formation.” de Prada, Andres Vazquez (2011-04-18). The Founder of Opus Dei: Volume III, The Divine Ways on Earth (The Life of Josemaria Escriva) (Kindle Locations 9415-9417). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
It started my mind wandering on this idea of formation. Surely there is a great benefit to the normal route of ordination, and in the “alternate” routes which are simply adaptations of the norm. There are a few differences as well between my friends over on the other side of the Tiber, and those of us who are Lutherans.
But Spiritual Formation is, in my opinion, critical, and in these days, critically overlooked. It’s been that way for a while. Hear the writer of Hebrews comment:
5:11 There is much we have to say about this matter, but it is hard to explain to you, because you are so slow to understand. 12 There has been enough time for you to be teachers—yet you still need someone to teach you the first lessons of God’s message. Instead of eating solid food, you still have to drink milk. 13 Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. 14 Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (TEV)
We see it there as well – as the author notes the inability of these people to get their butts of their spiritual couches and serve (by teaching) others. Instead the would rather take it easy, and simply re-digest the same simplistic lessons. They should be able to share the incredible blessings they have received, the basics of their faith. Yet… they can’t
I love the comment by Escriva’s position on this – it isn’t because they are weak, selfish, and self-centered! It is because they haven’t been formed. They haven’t been discipled. The very things that they need to learn, need to be shared, modeled. The depth of God’s love isn’t just “He saved me from my sins”, it is an incredible thing, long planned out – every step taken toward the cross, and away from the empty grave.
And the deeper you go, not into academia, but into living in that grace, rejoicing in it, seeing it revealed to you in the words of scripture, being comforted in prayer, even in things like making sacrifices, little ones for sure, in order that others may see God. As we live in Christ, as we are clothed in His righteousness, that overcomes what might appear to be selfish and infantile faith.
And we begin to share with others this glorious thing we’ve found. A last thought, describing maturity in Christ:
1Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now God’s salvation has come! Now God has shown his power as King! Now his Messiah has shown his authority! For the one who stood before our God and accused believers day and night has been thrown out of heaven. 11 They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die.
Revelation 12:10-11 (TEV)
That, my friends, is a description of us, the mature believers who trusted in the God who comes to them – not a bunch of selfish, infantile believers.
May Mark and Eddie and the rest of the seminarians that start this week be so formed… may our churches have the same attitude, may I as well.
Godspeed this day….