Excerpt from A Spiritual Formation Primer

We’ve talked about the corporate disciplines: those soul-training exercises that are done not by individual Christians alone but by Christians in community with other Christians. I can hardly stress enough how much fellowship with believers is necessary for spiritual formation.

Now I want to remind you of another reason fellowship with other believers is so important. This is really quite elementary, but it’s easy for us to forget, I think. Here it is:

Not one of us knows everything.

No one knows it all. We need each other. Those of us who love God, who listen to God, who spend time learning about God and talking to God — all of us need one another.

Throughout the ages and continuing today, whenever people have centered their lives on Jesus, they’ve learned things that can be of great benefit to other believers. Trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord has inspired people to worship him in many different ways. Christian traditions all have different strengths, and we can be grateful for all of them. Although each of us must choose one faith community to be our home base,” isn’t it wonderful that we can have fellowship across all dividing lines? This, I think, is a foretaste of heaven.

We can all learn from one another. We honor God and our souls benefit when we pay attention to one another and share our strengths with one another.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:1 – 6NIV).

Richard Foster writes about six traditions of Christian faith and practice, all of which are modeled most beautifully for us by Jesus, in his landmark book Streams of Living Water. Richard founded Renovaré to model, resource, and advocate fullness of life with God, and one of the principal means employed by Renovaré in this work is a recognition and celebration of these six great streams” of Christian tradition.

From Christians in the Contemplative tradition, we learn more of the prayer-filled life: a life focused on intimacy with God and depth of spirituality. Our brothers and sisters from the Contemplative tradition can teach us much about having a deep Christian experience by spending time with God in prayer and meditation.

From Christians in the Holiness tradition, we learn more of the virtuous life: a life focused on personal moral transformation. Our brothers and sisters from the Holiness tradition can teach us much about developing holy habits” and becoming persons of strong moral fiber.

From Christians in the Charismatic tradition, we learn more of the Spirit-empowered life: a life focused on the gifts of the Spirit and on worship. Our brothers and sisters from the Charismatic tradition can teach us much about welcoming the Holy Spirit while nurturing and exercising our spiritual gifts.

From Christians in the Social Justice tradition, we learn more of the compassionate life: a life focused on justice and shalom in human relationships and social structures. Our brothers and sisters from the Social Justice tradition can teach us much about helping those less fortunate than we.

From Christians in the Evangelical tradition, we learn more of the Word-centered life: a life focused on the proclamation of the good news of the gospel. Our brothers and sisters from the Evangelical tradition can teach us much about reading the scriptures and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

From Christians in the Incarnational tradition, we learn more of the sacramental life: a life focused on making present and visible the realm of the invisible spirit. Our brothers and sisters from the Incarnational tradition can teach us much about unifying the sacred and secular areas of our lives while showing forth God’s presence in all.

Of course, each of these streams of Christian tradition reflects a different aspect of the character of Jesus. We now have the great privilege of embracing an abundant life in Christ in all its fullness. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” Jesus taught his followers (John 10:10).

What joy there is in learning from one another as we all learn from Jesus!

Taken from A Spiritual Formation Primer, by Richella Parham. Copyright © 2013, 2014 Richella Parham. Published by Renovaré.

Photo by Nathan Bang on Unsplash

Text First Published March 2015 · Last Featured on Renovare.org August 2022