Here is a short outline of yesterday’s teaching. Let me know if you want the expanded version.
Matt 7:13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
Experience and scripture teach us that Christian growth is a process.
God is always encouraging and pushing us to grow, but we have the ability to resist him.
Biblical spirituality is always a combination of divine energy and our active participation.
The stages on this journey are all progressive and are all necessary – you can’t skip one completely. Neither can you finish one and check it off forever.
We move through them in different in different rates, sometimes regress, cycle through, or get stuck.
Some of us even experience several stages at the same time (real multi-taskers…), but most can identify a home stage where they find themselves living in.
01 FIRST LOVE
Our journey begins with conversion, that is the starting line.
We have an encounter with the love of God that is either radical, or gradual.
God will bring us back again and again to that stage to renew and refresh us.
02 LEARNING AND BELONGING
If we want to grow into maturity, we must be integrated into a local body of believers.
Discovering our spiritual gifts, and are ready to use our talents to serve.
We become responsible and contributing members of the church.
The focus of our spirituality and faith is serving God and others.
Between stages 3 and 4 there is usually a crisis.
Can be triggered by natural development such as
Loss of job
Burnout, or serious illness
We come face to face with our inadequacies.
Our Christian faith as we know and understand it, no longer seems to work.
If you have been prepared in stage 1-3 for this possibility you will be better prepared to deal with it.
04 SURRENDERING TO THE LOVE OF GOD
At this stage the journey turns inward. For some the journey inward leads to a crisis, for others the crisis compels them to go inward.
Rediscovery of spiritual disciplines (as outlined in many books on spiritual formation)
Transformation to a more contemplative and reflective nature
Some choose to find a spiritual director, or find strength in a spiritual formation small group.
All true spiritual formation takes us inward and then points us outward again.
For many this is the point where our giftings, experiences and opportunities converge.
Things like wrong motivations, or self-promotion become things of the past.
We worry little about reputation, personal success and comfort.
Most churches have built a culture around the first three stages, and often there is no room for people that have ”hit the wall”.
God is helping us to change that.