Thursday, August 9, 2018

Devotion 8.9.18

We’ve begun a summer series focused on the book, Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by Robert Mulholland Jr.  We’ll explore the concept of spiritual formation that he compares to a journey and look at it through the lens of summer vacation we’re so familiar with.

So how was your trip? 

This is the kind of question that can be hard to answer.  Are you supposed to give it a letter grade?  If you give an answer besides, “A+, Amazing!” does that imply that it wasn’t good.  Or as the cartoon bellow implies, is it based on the social media impression it made.

Image result for how was your vacation

Since any vacation is supposed to be good, it feels kind of bad to rate it, but there are differences in our vacation experiences.  In a similar way, it can feel wrong to talk about stages in our spiritual journey.  At least I know when I first heard someone talking this way I resented it.  I thought, “It’s all grace and so if I’m saved by grace then what else is there to say.  How can I be at a different stage of saved by grace?”  There is truth in that and it’s important to keep that as a foundation.  We are saved purely by Christ’s work on the cross.  Talking about stages in the spiritual journey is not about rating “how saved” I am, but the reality is that our sanctification is a process.  It’s also important to not make this about comparing our faith and journey to that of another.  

In fact, it’s often true that different areas of our life are at different stages so it’s not so clear cut anyway.  I’ve met some incredible Christians who have shown the ability to trust God implicitly with their future and their money.  They are completely in sync with God that way, at a “illumination” or “union” stage, but they are struggling mightily with resentments at people from their past.  I’ve met others who don’t struggle at all with many sins, but then there’s one biggie, maybe money, and they’ve held on to that control with both fists squeezed tight and they keep bumping into problems because of it.  In this area they may still be “awakening”. 

As with many things, it’s not all as clear cut as we’d like it to be, but Scripture speaks a lot about spiritual growth and the different areas where we can grow.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:5-8
So don’t let this be about a grade.  Don’t let discussion of the spiritual journey shame you.  Let it be something that allows you to take stock of the different areas of your life and celebrate the growth that God has given thus far and point you in the direction of areas he’s still working with you on.

Dan Borkenhagen
Associate Pastor
Hope Lutheran Church & School

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