Monday, April 14, 2014

Formation 3

You have decided to follow Christ.  Now what?
Plumbing has been used many times regarding the simplicity of formation and it remains one of the best metaphors for me.  Plumbing is simple: water flows downhill unless it is under pressure.  If it is under pressure it will go anywhere and find even the smallest means of escape.  Pretty simple.  And not to disparage the plumber's work, but it is actually pretty simple. However, small mistakes can easily and completely ruin a multi-million dollar home.
    After deciding to follow Jesus, the concept of formation is pretty simple.  Spend time worshiping Him, learn about Him, and do some kind of ministry.  You are now good to go.  We can expand this and there are many models which try to get these three concepts across, but it is all very basic.  One easy way to remember it is, Up, In, and Out.  We must direct our focus Up to God which is worship, In as to inwardly learn and digest about God, and Out, take God's message and love out to the world.
    As an aside, there is no pressure regarding failure in formation.  That is what grace is about.  The working out of salvation is like a child in a school play.  The parents (God) would, of course, love for their sweetheart (you) to put on the performance of a lifetime but the performance is really irrelevant to the love they have for their child.  They will love their child standing ovation or rotten tomatoes.  God loves us no matter our performance.  Note however, importantly, that unlike performance in a recital, our performance really does matter in an extraordinary way.  Not in its effect on God's love for us but on the working out of God's story.  What we do has eternal, profound consequences.  That should scare us a bit driving us to our knees to discover what part God wants us to play in this drama of His.  He has created both us in all our glory and designed our work to be done so doing our part is like lungs doing theirs.  The consequences of our activities should also drive us into the fact that He is big and is redeeming.  Should we, on a rare occasion mess up, He can fix things and grow flowers out of our...manure.
    You have decided to follow Jesus.
    The first thing to do next is to begin to hang around Christians.  Unlike most others, this religion is not a philosophy or a system of beliefs but a lifestyle within a group.

spend time telling Him wonderful things about Himself.  Seems very egotistical on His part and yes it is.  Egotism on our part is a sickness believing the world revolves around us and it doesn't.  For God it is simply a fact.  As someone said, "There is one God and you are not Him."  Telling Him who He is is called praise, adoration, worship.  God is great.  God is good.  Yes, but you can be more creative than this.  Reading the Psalms and Isaiah can help with ideas should you get stuck.  For you in particular as you read this, He is your hope, your rescue, your family counselor, your will and ability to reconcile with ________ , your direction, your light on your path in this world.
Many people think that prayer is just asking God for things but perhaps the most substantial part of prayer is to in-form God who He is and that you know what kind of character He is.  This process of telling God who He is changes you.  It is a peculiar spiritual process for which I know no analogies.
    Now many people will say that one needs to start formation with reading the Bible.  That is reasonable advice however most people today join a church family not by an assent to their beliefs but because they find the community warm and welcoming, the experience of being with Christian's astonishing. 

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