Spiritual Formation is a churchy word that often involves disciplines and habits that connect us with God. Things like prayer and fasting, worship, reading Scripture, practicing silence and solitude, among others. To be honest, I geek out on this stuff, and I realize most people don’t. We live in a culture that tries to disconnect the physical realm from the spiritual realm and emphasizes immediate gratification. We don’t have time for Spiritual Disciplines. Don’t get me wrong. I have my guilty pleasures, and spend more time watching reruns of Seinfeld and The Walking Dead than I would like to admit. But I also love Jesus, and value times of stillness and silence where He speaks to my heart.
We are all being formed by something. The question is, “What?” I’m becoming more and more convinced that throughout my life, I have been formed as an American to value American ideals. This has happened mostly without me knowing it. I have been formed through the laws that are in place and the freedoms I enjoy, through the education I received, as well as through the culture and media. Some of these values, like benevolence, line up nicely with the teachings of Jesus. Others don’t.
You could say that I am an American Disciple.
Discipleship is another churchy word. When Jesus says, “Go and make disciples,” the meaning is often lost on us. We struggle to understand what that means practically. For years, I thought it was something meant for missionaries.
In short, a disciple is someone who is being formed by Jesus to live like He did.
In this short blog series, I’m going to share some values we hold as Americans that sometimes make it difficult to be formed by Jesus. I believe it can also provide some insight as to why so many churches are struggling today, and hope it will help you to consider how Jesus would have you fulfill The Great Commission:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:18-20
In the next post, we'll look at why our embrace of individualism can actually make it difficult to make disciples like Jesus did.