Tom DeVries' sermon today dovetails very well into what I've been raising about spiritual formation. When he quoted Chuck Colsen on the reassertion of Lordship needed in the Christian church today, he's hitting exactly this point. Again, Dallas Willard (DW)raises this very point, which Tom raises about loving God and loving neighbor. Tom raised it in a quotation when dealing with the life of CT Studd, I think, who was saying that he was looking at all the commandments, putting a checkmark by the ones he was obeying to show demonstratively his love, because Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." [John 14:15] DW hits this very point hard when looks at the great commission:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. [Matthew 28:19-20]
"Teaching everything I have commanded you," Willard says, is living the two great commandments to love God and love neighbor. The question is, how does this happen? CT Studd said that he knew he wasn't willing, but that he was willing to be made willing. If that's the case, if we really do want to be formed into the likeness of Christ, then how does that happen? How exactly are we formed in Christ to become like Christ? It's out of this context that Willard provides a stiff judgment that has been a huge challenge to me lately:
In the face of this challenge, I know of no current denomination or local congregation that has a concrete plan and practice for teaching people to do "all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Very few even regard this as something we should actually try to do, and may think it to be simply impossible. Little wonder, then, that it is hard to identify a specifically "Christian" version of spiritual formation among Christians and their institutions.
I guess I'd like to see that change, and see us take our formation seriously, not to prove Willard wrong, but to be changed for the purposes of Christ.
Subscribe to Embarking Blog by Email