In order for any of this to make sense we have to have an understanding that formation is a process. If you believe that being a Christian is an event, only a wedding if you will, then formation doesn’t make sense. Ben Johnson, professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary states that our relationship with Christ does not grow, that we do not grow closer to Christ but that our relationship only becomes different. The relationship with Christ changes, he contends, but this ”does not mean improvement.” He even uses the example that his marriage is different now but is not better than it was on their wedding day. How sad.
If our relationship with Christ is not improving, getting better, then it is dying. As with any relationship, there is no middle ground. So we have to have this understanding that there are stages of actual growth, there are mature and immature Christians We are all un-formed Christians but some of us are less formed than others. This is easy to see in children but adults have a harder time thinking that they are immature or need to grow.
To return to the wedding/marriage analogy, my position at St Johns is like a marriage counselor for your marriage to Christ. A wedding is a great thing and it is critical to make a public statement of fidelity to your wife. Making a public confession of Christ is critical, but, as with marriage, is there more? Are marriage preparation and marriage quality an issue? In his book, Unchristian, Kinneman’s research shows that 85% of Americans state that they have made a public profession for Christ. Now, only about 30% of the population says they attended church “last weekend” so where are the other 55% of believers. Obviously we have a lot of “wedding” Christians with little or no marriage. So….
How are you doing? Is Christ there for you, walking with you through the tough spots that you can’t handle on your own? You obviously participate in church since you are here. And most of us are involved in a Bible study or Sunday School class. Jesus has an impact on who you are and how you act. Got your ticket and you're done?
These talks are an invitation to take a step, for some a leap maybe, to see if there is more to your life with Christ than what it is now. Kind of like -
You got married to Christ at baptism and confirmation and now... what? You’re on speaking terms? Life perks along and is happy enough. Nothing is really wrong with life – troubles but everyone has troubles. Not quite content but is anyone? Being a Christian doesn’t mean I supposed to be happy all the time, does it? So what are you talking about? Life is good enough.
Well… is it?