by Morgan Stephens
How do we want to live so that we can be who we want to be?
This question has been at the forefront of a conversation in the Christian world called “spiritual formation.” Spiritual formation has two parts: doing that is aimed at being.
In terms of being, Christians have classically understood, like the Apostle Paul, that it is the purpose of God the Father to conform us “to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29 NIV).
Elsewhere, St. Paul reflects to his readers the degree to which that aim has sunk deeply into his soul: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation of sharing in sufferings, becoming like Him in his death…” (Phil 3:10).
If, then, we understand, as Paul did, that our goal as Christians is to be like Christ to the degree it is possible for us personally, the front half of the question comes back even more sharply into focus: how do we want to live so that we can be who God wants to be?
The simplest answer, biblically, would be to live in a way that emulates, both spiritually and practically, the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
As Dallas Willard put it in The Spirit of the Disciplines, “…we can become like Christ by doing one thing—by following Him in the overall life He chose for Himself” (52).
What kind of life did he choose? Among other things, Jesus chose a life of:
While all of these elements might not be immediately “introducible” into your routine, the question is still begged:
If we want to be like Christ, experience the promise of abundant life in Christ, are we, quite literally—like an athlete would practice—practicing living the life He lived, to the degree we can with the resources we have been given?
We “practice” a lot of things—some of them good, and others, not so much.
What if we began to practice living like Christ, to the degree we can? I’ll bet we would find a rush of joy, energy and vitality flooding our hearts, bodies and minds—and that’s my hope and prayer for us today.
What’s one practice of Christ (listed above) you could begin to introduce on a regular basis, if you’ve not already, for the goal of experiencing the abundant life He promised?
Heavenly Father, I confess I practice many things: worries, anxieties and fears of all kinds. And yet I desire the abundant life you promised through Christ. Would you help me to begin new practices that access that life? For my own sake, the sake of others around me, and for Your sake? Thank you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
February 14, 2023