John Ortberg and a team from Monvee recently spoke at our church on Christian Spiritual Formation. John was his usual self, which is to say that he did a remarkable job communicating deep truths in understandable ways. Here are some of the highlights from his talk.

The message of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is available here and now. There is an intrinsic link between message of the Kingdom of God, grace and following Jesus. When you lose that connection you have to manufacture reasons for discipleship. It is the best deal going – a new life of the kingdom available to us now!

Spiritual Formation is for everyone, not just for the contemplatives. The outer you is constantly being shaped and formed. The inner you (characteristics, thoughts, values) is also being shaped all the time. We are shaped by the things that we put into us and around us (Rom 12). Spiritual formation is constantly happening. It is more than a class or a book or a particular practice.

I am not God. My life is not my own. My life is God’s project. My life is God’s handiwork (Eph. 2). God knows my full potential. God knows the real me. God is deeply invested in my development.

Jesus version of grace was bigger than the forgiveness of sins. It includes that, and much more than that. God was gracious before people ever sinned. Our formation and growth in this life is a grace (Wesley). Saints burn more grace than sinners (Willard)

In John 7:38-39 Jesus talks about his followers having streams of living water flowing from their belly. The living water is the Spirit of God. The image of a river giving water in the dessert is a grace, it brings about flourishing. When people are flourishing it is not just for themselves, it is for the healing of the world

Living in the spirit will look different in each of us, because we are different people. Disciples are hand crafted, not mass produced. God’s interactions with people in the scriptures are very diverse. Redemption is the redemption of creation – you are redeemed to be you.

The measure of your spirituality is not your devotional life – It is your life. Everything counts. We error when we measure spiritual maturity by devotional practices.

How then do we gauge our spiritual health? Dallas Willard asks two questions.

  1. Am I more or less irritated, frustrated, and discouraged? (The Spirit brings PEACE.)
  2. Am I more or less loving to others? (The Spirit brings LOVE.)

The world today will not receive a message of transformation from untransformed people.