In an attempt to express the complexities of the Christian path in as simple a fashion as possible, I am increasingly looking at things in a broader, yet at the same time more personal, perspective. Considering this, it seems to me that in order to fully grasp the significance of Christian spiritual formation, we have to at least begin with the following:
- Come to understand exactly who Christ is.
- Come to understand exactly what He accomplished in His mission on earth.
- Once we comprehend fully the above two aspects of Christ, his identity and his work, we must then make a decision as to what our personal response to Christ will be.
This decision should be made based on our understanding of who Christ was, is, and what he accomplished. Our personal decision must not just be the standard “accept Christ as your personal savior” bit. Instead, it must be formulated deeply in relation to:
- How much am I willing to surrender my life and will to Christ?
- To what extent am I aware of what following Christ means in general and what it means in my personal situation in particular? Also, to what extent am I aware of what it means to be a Christian disciple within the ever-shifting and highly fluid parameters of this exciting but spiritually challenging age?
- The above two points are directly related to Christ’s instructions that a person should “count the costs” of real discipleship. Am I ready to put my hand to the plow and not look back?
- In addition to the personal aspects of our response to Christ, we must look at all this in terms of the corporate response to Christ. How is the Body of Christ, in all its various forms, supposed to respond to Christ’s true identity, His accomplishments, and His ongoing mission?
Approaching the faith within the parameters of these four vital questions goes a long way toward giving us a sort of “broad brush” perspective on not only what following Christ means, but specifically, what it means to each of us as individuals.
Further, I think these are questions that every believer should ask himself or herself on a fairly regular basis. I say this because at any given time, the particulars of our response may be different. At one season of life Christ may be calling you to one course of action, while at another time, he may be calling you to another. I say this not from general theory, but from personal experience. Over the course of my life Christ has called me into arenas of service involving not only the church, but also in working with the elderly, with the mentally ill, with alcoholics and drug addicts, with AIDS patients, with the homeless, and even to the mission field in Asia, where I served five years.
I encourage those who read this short article to spend some time in prayerful reflection over these four areas of concern. Ask for insight and wisdom, as well as discernment, and I feel very assured it will be forthcoming in due time. And I especially encourage you to truly reflect on the incredible, mind-boggling reality of just who and what Jesus Christ was and is. I promise you that if this reality truly penetrates your mind and your heart, you will never, ever be the same.
© L.D. Turner 2011/All Rights Reserved