What’s the Big Deal? | Part Two

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 – Akin Akinrinmade

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Grow Up!

Ephesians 4 (King James Bible)
14 That we henceforth be no more children…

When my children were born, they were the cutest, loveliest expression of God’s creation I had ever seen (apart from my wife of course). Your children probably evoke the same sentiments in you. But you very quickly realize that this cute bundle of joy is in peril. If you don’t feed him or her, death follows. If you don’t cover them up, exposure, illness and death follows. They must be changed, washed, protected, fed just to survive.

As they grow up to become toddlers, the daily activities of life could be even more dangerous. One day, my 3-year-old son thought it was a good idea to eat up a centipede. On another day, he thought pulling the neighbour’s 65 kg, 4-foot-tall, menacing dog by the tail was fun and games. A child may seem cute and cuddly, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s a precarious existence. A child is ignorant and lacks awareness. He needs to GROW UP.

In fact, the only great thing about being a child is:
1. The desire to grow up
2. The innocence of childhood

1 Peter 2 (New Living Translation)
2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment.

1 Corinthians 14 (New American Standard Bible)
20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.

It is sad to see how many believers may be advancing in years of salvation but are still very unformed, amorphous spiritually. Spiritual growth is not attained by being an old Christian saved for many years, it is not attained by being well schooled in church related activities, it is not even attained or measured by being the one who can pray most, preach most or other external means of assessment.

1 Corinthians 3 (Berean Study Bible)
1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ.
2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food.
3 In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly.

Spiritual formation is a matter of the heart, it is about transitioning from a physical consciousness to spirituality, from occupation with the world into occupation with Christ.

Colossians 3 (Berean Study Bible)
1 Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Going back to our text in Ephesians 4: 14. The concept of children expressed there is that of an ignorant, immature, infant who lacks stability and discipline. One who is lacking in self and environmental awareness. A child is prone to extreme vacillations of emotions, is unreliable, prone to accidents and is in constant need of attention, care and protection.

Why? A child lacks an advanced capacity for the information processing required for decision making or sound judgment.

What is Spiritual Formation?

The Center for Christian Leadership (2004) describes it as “the process by which Christ’s character is formed in believers”. The process involves the transformation of the whole person in thoughts, behaviours, and styles of relating with God and others. It results in a life of service to others and witness for Christ.

Burer (2007) and others define spiritual formation as the “intentional transformation of the inner person to the character of Christ.” An individual believer makes a
conscious choice about it; it is transformation in that it involves definitive, measurable growth in a certain direction. It involves the inner person in that it concerns itself with character, thoughts, intentions, and attitudes more than actions, habits, or behaviours. It has the character of Christ as its goal and standard of measure.

I define it simply: Spiritual formation is a continuous inner transformation quest towards Christlikeness. Kenneth. E. Hagin is even simpler. He calls it “Growing up Spiritually” (Hagin, 1976).

Your daily pre-occupation should not be on the mundane things of existence. Your utmost and uppermost heart quest should be to be transformed into his likeness. That is our primary calling. That is why we are here. It is time to GROW UP, to advance in Spiritual Formation. We will spend the next few days getting into the gist of how to do just that.

References
• Burer, Michael (2007). Towards a Biblical Definition of Spiritual Formation. https://bible.org/seriespage/towards-biblical-definition-spiritual-formation-romans-121-2
• Center for Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary, Identity: Investigating Who I Am, Transforming Life Series (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004)
• Hagin, Kenneth E. (1976). Growing Up Spiritually. Faith Library Publications, Tulsa, OK, USA.

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