Does spiritual formation ever end?
If you’ve read any of my earlier entries, you’d probably imagine that I’d answer “No”. After all, spiritual formation is the process – maybe even the lifelong process – of becoming the people God is calling us to be.
But if it never ends, and if there’s no goal in sight, much less any possibility of achieving that goal, why even bother?
I love honest questions – and this is one of those brutally honest questions that strikes at the heart of the Christian life: why subject yourself to the pain, the stress, the tears and the risk of perpetual discipleship if it leads you on a journey that never ends? Why run a race if there is no finish line? Why bear fruit if it will never be harvested?
Most Christians are afraid to ask these kinds of question because good girls and boys don’t dare say such things. Typically the message from the Church (with a big “C”; not any individual church) is to ‘just do it’ – keep worshipping, keep tithing, keep praying, and keep trying – and if you don’t, well, then you need to repent. But this message is also typically coded with the tacit assumption that all of the ‘doing’ doesn’t really lead us anywhere – that our spiritual growth will always be unfinished, incomplete, and in-process. Does this sound like a catch-22 to anybody else but me?
This perpetual unfinishedness is woven deeply into the fabric of our culture as a Church. (It takes most church committees over a year to choose carpet colors, right?) I’ve seen evidence of this time and again in churches all over the country – “Well, we want to launch this ministry, or we want to serve this group of people, or we want to reach out to so-and-so …. But we’re not ready.” They don’t know enough Bible. They haven’t attended the right leadership seminar yet. They haven’t given the steering committee enough time to gather feedback from church members. They don’t feel spiritually ‘formed’ enough.
Here’s another brutally honest question – Is your concept of spiritual growth holding you back from spiritual growth?
(And yes, this entry is supposed to feel a little ‘unfinished’…..)
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