Spiritual Formation

We are all spir­i­tu­al beings. We have phys­i­cal bod­ies, but our lives are large­ly dri­ven by an unseen part of us. There is an imma­te­r­i­al cen­ter in us that shapes the way we see the world and our­selves, directs the choic­es we make, and guides our actions. Our spir­it is the most impor­tant part of who we are. And yet we rarely spend time devel­op­ing our inner life. That’s what Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion is all about.

Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion is a process, but it is also a jour­ney through which we open our hearts to a deep­er con­nec­tion with God. We are not bystanders in our spir­i­tu­al lives, we are active par­tic­i­pants with God, who is ever invit­ing us into rela­tion­ship with him.

Jesus said, I came that they may have life and have it abun­dant­ly” (Jn. 10:10). We at Ren­o­varé believe that such abun­dant life is pos­si­ble here and now because Jesus showed us the way to it. As we take on the life of Jesus – become like him – we expe­ri­ence a rich­ness in life and faith that is tru­ly renewed day by day (Col. 3:10).

Why is Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion Important?

Close­ness with God brings us true free­dom and full­ness (Jn. 8:36, Col. 2:9 – 10). Yet many peo­ple – Chris­tians includ­ed – find their lives fall short of the kind Jesus promised and pro­claimed. If God is present with us, why is there so lit­tle joy, pow­er, ener­gy, and peace in our lives?

We keep try­ing: to find hap­pi­ness, to expe­ri­ence God, to fill the empti­ness. And that’s the prob­lem. Try­ing just tires us out, dis­tracts us from what’s impor­tant, and dis­cour­ages us when we fail.

We are eter­nal beings, but have lost sight of eter­nal liv­ing. We spend time, ener­gy, and mon­ey on our phys­i­cal needs, but neglect our souls. Our mis­placed efforts leave us feel­ing pow­er­less and detached from God.

That’s not how God intend­ed it to be. We are meant to be in rela­tion­ship with God and oth­ers in a way that is dynam­ic, whole, and fresh every day (John 17:24, 2 Cor 4:16) – rela­tion­ship that extends beyond church ser­vices into every facet of our lives.

Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion helps us reclaim our rela­tion­ship with God as it was meant to be. It’s not try­ing – it’s train­ing in eter­nal liv­ing, deter­mined dis­ci­ple­ship to Jesus Christ, and the way we dis­cov­er the renew­able source of spir­i­tu­al ener­gy we’ve been look­ing for (2 Cor 4:16).

What the Bible Says About Spir­i­tu­al Formation

Repent, for the king­dom of the heav­ens is at hand” (Matt 3:2, 4:17, 10:7). This is a call for us to recon­sid­er how we have been approach­ing our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the pres­ence of Jesus, have the option of liv­ing with­in the sur­round­ing move­ments of God’s eter­nal pur­pos­es, of tak­ing our life into his life.
—Dal­las Willard

The Bible has a lot to say about Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion. Below are just a few pas­sages that encour­age us in spir­i­tu­al renew­al. If you’re inter­est­ed in learn­ing more, Renovaré’s Life with God Bible pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive per­spec­tive on Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion through­out scrip­ture, includ­ing an index of pas­sages that high­light 18 dif­fer­ent spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines found in the Bible.

2 Corinthi­ans 3:18

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glo­ry, are being trans­formed into his like­ness with ever-increas­ing glo­ry, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthi­ans 4:16

There­fore we do not lose heart. Though out­ward­ly we are wast­ing away, yet inward­ly we are being renewed day by day.

Eph­esians 4:20 – 24

But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sin­ful nature and your for­mer way of life … Instead, let the Spir­it renew your thoughts and atti­tudes. Put on your new nature, cre­at­ed to be like God – tru­ly right­eous and holy.

1 Tim­o­thy 4:7 – 8

… train your­self to be god­ly. For phys­i­cal train­ing is of some val­ue, but god­li­ness has val­ue for all things, hold­ing promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Colos­sians 3:10 – 11

Each of you is now a new per­son. You are becom­ing more and more like your Cre­ator, and you will under­stand him bet­ter. It doesn’t mat­ter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are cir­cum­cised or not. You may even be a bar­bar­ian or a Scythi­an, and you may be a slave or a free per­son. Yet Christ is all that mat­ters, and he lives in all of us.

Titus 2:11 – 14

For the grace of God has appeared, bring­ing sal­va­tion to all, train­ing us to renounce impi­ety and world­ly pas­sions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-con­trolled, upright, and god­ly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the glo­ry of our great God and Sav­ior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave him­self for us that he might redeem us from all iniq­ui­ty and puri­fy for him­self a peo­ple of his own who are zeal­ous for good deeds.

Next: The Six Streams

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