Summary: This message looks at the basics of spiritual formation, including where our desire for God actually comes from
Spiritual Formation Series: Sermon 1: Desiring God - November 2, 2014
In the next few weeks we’re going to be looking at a subject that we’ve never addressed in depth, to my recollection. We’re going to explore the Scriptures and look at spiritual formation.
The topic today is “Spiritual Formation: Desire”.
Over the next few weeks we’ll explore what it means to follows Jesus as He models self-denial, as He models what it means for us to carry our cross, and the final message, from Bill Ryan, will look at what it means to commit and sustain our commitment to growing in Christ with genuine determination.
Just a few words about spiritual formation. All people everywhere are in the process of being formed spiritually, whether or not we recognize it. We are growing toward God, or we are not growing toward God.
Life, and our responses to all that happens to us and around us, shapes us. As Christians, we are becoming like Jesus, we are ultimately predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).
That means that its God’s intention and purpose and plan that we become like Jesus in holiness, in love, in compassion, in caring for one another.
Spiritual formation is the process of becoming like Jesus. It is the way that God shapes us, recreates us, molds and makes us to be what He intends us to be. It’s a given that, abiding in Jesus, we will continue to grow toward being like Jesus until the day we die, or until Jesus returns.
God wants us to be like Jesus, because that’s how we are the most free, the most joyful and the most effective at doing His will.
God works with us in this process. He doesn’t overwhelm our wills, forcing us to obey Him, forcing us to become like Jesus. We bring certain things to the table and God brings certain things to the table in this process.
God brings His power, His love, His Holy Spirit, His faithfulness, His constancy, His patience and mercy. What God brings is impressive and huge and is what really brings us to the place where we need to be, as we grow to be like Jesus.
What we bring is our hurt, our sin, our brokenness, our histories, our questions, our doubts. That’s not a particularly impressive list. Perhaps the most important thing that we can bring is a desire for God.
A genuine longing to know God, to be found in Him, and to allow God to lead us, to direct us, ultimately to call the shots in our lives as the One who is Lord of our lives. What we can bring is the desire to seek God. But there is a problem.
No One Seeks God
The Apostle Paul, the writer of the Book of Romans, writes this:
Romans 3:10: As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away...”
That’s a quote from Psalm 14, written many hundreds of years earlier. Still applied at the time that Paul wrote the Book of Romans. Still applies today.
There isn’t any person who seeks God, from his or her own initiative. There isn’t a one of us that, out of the goodness of our hearts, wants to pursue God.
Since the fall of humankind, everything is broken. This includes our relationship with God, and it includes our wills. Neither you nor I have the will or the inclination to seek after God.
Does that surprise you to hear? Nobody here gets brownie points for being the one person who is the exception to the rule.
We all lack what the Bible calls righteousness and we all lack understanding of God. And none of us seek Him.
I kind of wish that wasn’t true, because it seems a harsh assessment of humanity as a whole and of me personally. Not really a great boost to the ego.
But if that’s the case, and it is, where does that leave us? If I were you I’d be thinkin’: “I’m not sure I like this preacher. Kind of a downer”.
Well, we are left, by this passage and a lot of other passages, with a distinct sense of being pretty helpless when it comes to anything to do with God.
But of course we don’t take our complete understanding from any one verse by itself. We need to know and reflect on the whole counsel, the full counsel of the Word of God.
And what we really need, WHO we really need, is Jesus to give us hope. And Jesus to make a way.
That takes us to a statement by Jesus in John 6:44. He says:“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day”.