Do we understand that we are making disciples of Jesus? Are we fostering spiritual hunger for Christ alone?
Spiritual formation is a matter of the heart. The place where the shaping or forming happens is the heart. In the Bible, we hear these almost bizarre for our contemporary ears statements about God wanting to circumcise our hearts.
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The point is that God wants to change the shape of us. He wants to conform us into the image of Jesus — to make us more loving, more gentle, more joyful, more peaceful, more gracious, more faithful, more trusting … more disciplined. At its core, Methodism is about using spiritual discipline to be shaped into the character of Christ. Are we people of one Book, a book designed to shape us into Kingdom-minded people?
Spiritual formation happens for the sake of others. Methodism is designed to be both evangelistic and global. We do not apologize for our belief in the radical notion that our brand of faith has power to change the world. Nothing less, nothing else. Do our people have a global vision, or are we stuck on our own cultural values, unable to see how God is moving in other parts of the world? Do we truly believe ourselves to be globally connected to each other by the power of the Holy Spirit? Spiritual formation is fueled by spiritual discipline. It is our contribution to the Body of Christ — this idea that through very practical habits, we can form an intimate relationship with Christ even as he forms us into his likeness.
In our chaotic and distracted world, spiritual disciplines like fasting and prayer may seem arcane; we want to discount them because we are already too busy doing things for Jesus.
COVENANT DISCIPLESHIP GROUPS |
But are we busy enough doing things that place us in the presence of Jesus? Are we learning to hear his voice? The initial three are summarized as the ordinary means. For Calvin, it was to be found:.
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Wesley obviously accepts this in a rather complete form when he presents his version:. The visible Church of Christ is a congregation…in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly administrated. The sacraments as a means of grace are intimately woven into the life of the Church and serve as one of the foundations of its existence.
The DNA of Methodist Discipleship
For the communicant, they encourage an examination of the appropriate descriptions of the sacrament in the Gospels and First Corinthians, as well as the proper preparation for receiving the sacrament. This eucharistic hymn presents an evocative affirmation of this sentiment:. But none, like this mysterious rite Which dying mercy gave Can draw for all the promised might And all His will to save The holy meal was not only an combination of the means of grace, but it was the inner source of communication.
The sacrifice of Christ and our daily sacrifice for Him affords a new, more enlightened understanding. It provides the theological as well as ecclesical harmony needed to promote the Kingdom of God.
It encompasses the needs of a sinful humanity and a loving God. Books on the topic of or mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.
Borgen, Ole E. John Wesley on the Sacraments. Dieter, Melvin E. The Church. Anderson, Indiana: Warner Press, Carter, Charles. A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology. Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press, Collins, Kenneth J. Hinson, William H.
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Nashville: Abingdon, Kinghorn, Kenneth Cain. Nashville: Abingdon Press, Lawson, John. The Wesley Hymns. Lindstrom, Harold. Wesley and Sanctification. Marquardt, Manfred. Oden, Thomas C. After Modernity…What? Agenda For Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, Outler, Albert C. Rattenbury, J. Cleveland: Order of Saint Luke Publications, Sugden, Edward.