From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a April 2002 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

Let us consider together how Christians are transformed into the image of Christ. That’s our destiny as believers according to Romans 8:29. How does this happen in our life? What role does the local church have?

The Process

I see the process of being conformed to the image of Christ as an invitation to participate with the Triune God in making us like Jesus. 2 Peter 1:3 says that his divine power has given everything needed for life and godliness. But even though everything is available for our transformation, we must cooperate with God in that process. Let me suggest that there are four dimensions to this transforming process — intentionality, the spiritual disciplines, a plan or structure, and follow-through.

Revelation 3:20 tell us Jesus wants to come into our lives, but he waits for us to invite him in. That invitation is intentionality.

There are the spiritual disciplines, tools to help us cooperate with God in our spiritual formation prayer, fasting, worship, and so on. These tools have been passed down to us through Scripture, the Church’s ancient traditions, and the saints, who exemplified their use and value.

Then, just as we need routines to help us accomplish our daily duties, so we need a structure to help us implement the disciplines.

Finally, once the structure is in place we need follow-through. This is the hard part. Asking God into our lives is not so hard. Even setting up a plan to implement the disciplines can be fun. But carrying out a long-term plan by ourselves is something else.

Becoming Like Christ

The good news is that Jesus did not call us to a do-it-yourself Christianity. He gave us each other. Enter the local church parish. Ideally every Christian is involved in a local church where worship, the sacraments, and godly relationships help them keep the faith. However, in a large church people can get lost in the shuffle. Meetings and responsibilities can divert attention from the real work of the church — making us like Christ.

I have discovered that being part of a small group deepens the effects of corporate worship, helps establish me in Christ, and holds me to my commitments. A recent book published by Upper Room Books, Companions in Christ: A Small-Group Experience in Spiritual Formation, provides an excellent structure for small groups which any parish could implement.

In his new book, Renovation of the Heart (to be published by NavPress this month), Dallas Willard outlines three basic goals of the local parish and its small groups:

  • Making disciples that are apprentices of Jesus Christ.
  • Immersing apprentices at all levels of growth in God’s presence.
  • Transforming disciples inwardly in such a way that doing the words and deeds of Christ are not the focus, but the natural outcome or side effects. By this definition, becoming like Christ is the number one priority of Christians and their local church. Everything else is a result. And we are in it together, praise God.

In Christ,

Glandion Carney

Text First Published April 2002