Sunday, October 16, 2011

Understanding Spiritual Formation 4: The Discipline of Community

Just before Jesus left his disciples, he promised that he would send another “counselor” to take his place. The Spirit he was sending was the same Spirit that had been in Him, the samd Spirit that had been enabling his earthly ministry.

The Spirit would indwell Jesus’ followers, and continue his ministry in their lives, forming them to be like Jesus. Everyone who takes up the call to follow Jesus receives the Spirit. If you follow Jesus, you have the Spirit.

Jesus’ Spirit is in you…forming you to be like Him. You need to open yourself to the formative work of the Spirit. Praying, meditating, reading the Bible, memorization, fasting, contemplation, and many other methods can open you to the Spirit. He works through all these activities to make you more like Christ.

But Jesus was/is most interested in seeing the Spirit form you through your relationships with others. Before he promised the Spirit, Jesus commanded his disciples to “Love one another.”

This was a new command to them. They picked it up and ran with it. It became the foundational teaching of the church in its earliest days. When the apostles wrote letters to other churches, they often included ideas on how to love one another. They wrote “be devoted to one another” , “serve one another” , “accept one another” , “build one another up” and many, many more.

Loving one another is the conduit for the Holy Spirit’s formative work in our life.

After Jesus promised the coming of the Spirit, he prayed for everyone who would ever believe his message (that means that if you believe in him, he was praying for you). His prayer was very simple.

He prayed that we would be unified.

When the people of God are united to each other in love, the Holy Spirit can perform his formative work in a powerful and effective way. It’s really kind of simple. The Holy Spirit makes us look like Christ by using those around us to influence us in positive ways.

This is “Community”.

It’s a collection of people sharing their lives with one another for the glory of God.

God is glorified when we look like him.
We look like him when we look like Jesus.
We look like Jesus when the Spirit forms us.
The Spirit forms us when we place ourselves into community.

God’s new creation is a community.

And it is very, very good.

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