Spiritual Formation the Need for Different Paradigm
Updated: Jan 8, 2020
Too often in the Western World, in recent years we have understood the process of spiritual formation in a very mechanistic fashion. We have either developed a ‘Seven Easy Steps to Spiritual Formation’ or we have neglected spiritual formation altogether because it does not fit into our assembly-line paradigm. The mechanistic paradigm makes idols of efficiency, control, predictability, and measurement. Success is measured by, how often you read your Bible or pray, etc. While reading your Bible and praying is important. This does not measure nor necessarily correlate to inner growth.
Conversely, spiritual formation comes by grace and is a mysterious process. The farmer in Mark 4:26 has a responsibility to scatter the seed faithfully and to harvest it at the right time. But night and day, whether he is asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows. He does not know exactly how this happens. Just as the farmer cannot force growth by pulling on a stem of wheat, so spiritual formation cannot be forced; it is a work of the Spirit with which we cooperate.
A helpful way to facilitate spiritual formation in one’s life is to use the means of grace that God has given us to promote the process of spiritual maturity. The primary means of grace are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God. The Holy Spirit helps individuals and communities to understand and obey the Word of God, as they are taught by gifted people in the midst of the community of the people of God.