But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 1:20-21, ESV)
…my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! (Galatians 4:19, ESV)
Growing up into Christ-likeness is a lifelong process. Many Christians in my culture (the Bible belt) assume that ‘accepting’ Jesus and occasionally reading the Bible and Church attendance is the goal of the Christian life. Some view ‘acceptance’ of Jesus as merely a type of life insurance policy with no desire to grow spiritually at all. There is a view that mental assent to the facts about the historical Jesus is all we need to make it to heaven. Salvation is a free gift given by God’s grace to those who have placed their trust in Jesus payment for our sins on a cross, and his resurrection from the dead. Trusting in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives us the power to live an overcoming life.
Also, repentance (a change of mind and direction) is required to start this journey with God. We must renounce our way of thinking and embrace Jesus’ way. Living in His invisible Kingdom empowered by the Holy Spirit produces visible change in our lives. Embracing God’s word and openness to His Spirit is where growth in Christ begins. The goal of spiritual formation is for Christ to be fully formed in us. Which is actually spiritual maturity.
We must cooperate with God during this life long process, and embrace a life characterized by prayer and giving. The Holy Spirit dwells within every true believer, but we must be persistent in our pursuit of God or our spiritual growth will be stunted. We must be intentional about keeping ourselves in the faith, that’s our part. God provides the power, we simply obey him.
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8 ESV)
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)
Our goal in spiritual growth is to be increasingly conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Meditation on the Scripture and a life characterized by prayer are keys to achieving this goal. Meditation on the gospel and lingering over its meaning and pondering the glory of God affects the way we live. Comprehension of the gospel helps us to keep our minds in a state of gratitude. And thankfulness and gratitude need to be cultivated in our lives because appreciation of God doesn’t come naturally.
If you are in Christ you have been placed by God’s grace into his eternal kingdom and personal care. As we discover our status as sons and daughters of the Father, we feel safe and are free to grow up into maturity. Seeking God’s life transforming presence is the goal of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. The place of God’s presence is open to those who surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. Prayer, fasting, study, meditation, service, and giving, are all disciplines of the Christian life that should be practiced. There are times when we practice these disciplines alone, but much of our walk with God must be done in a healthy Christian community. Life in the Kingdom is a life of sharing with others the goodness and healing that he has given to us.