There is a great article from John Ortberg with the same title that can be found here.
John is a great thinker around spiritual formation, and some of his latest stuff is his best yet. Here are a couple of great excerpts from this article, but the whole thing is worth reading:
Jesus made staggering promises about his ability to transform human lives:
“‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flowing from within.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (John 7:37-39).
This life is not something we produce; it exists independently of us. It is the Spirit of God.
Often people are moved by the vision of Jesus, are overwhelmed by the hope and beauty of his promise, and they say yes to it. For a time, there’s a kind of a spiritual honeymoon period. They’re filled with love for God, and they’re drawn to the Bible. And some things change. Maybe coarse language gets cleaned up. Maybe certain habits get overcome.
But over time this sense of progress stalls out. People find themselves wrestling with patterns of anger, or sexual addictions, or chronic anxiety that are embedded too deeply in their bodies to be lifted out simply through hearing more information. And they get stuck in a gap.
When they first hear the gospel, they’re aware of the gap between them and God caused by sin. And they come to understand that human effort cannot bridge that gap; it can only be bridged by grace.
But over time they become aware of another gap: the gap between who I am right now and the person God wants me to become.
And then he gives some examples of the way God customizes spiritual growth plans for different people in the Bible:
He had Abraham take a walk,
Elijah take a nap,
Joshua take a lap,
Adam take the rap.
He gave Moses a 40-year timeout,
He gave David a harp and a dance,
He gave Paul a pen and a scroll.
He wrestled with Jacob,
argued with Job,
whispered to Elijah,
and comforted Hagar.
He gave Aaron an altar,
Miriam a song,
Gideon a fleece,
Peter a name,
and Elisha a mantle.
Jesus was stern with the rich young ruler,
tender with the woman caught in adultery,
patient with the disciples,
blistering with the scribes,
gentle with the children,
and gracious with the thief on the cross.
I am a lifelong Chicagoan, a pastor at River City Community Church, and an author who writes a lot about resisting and confronting white supremacy from a faith lens.
Our church was founded in January of 2003 in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, and is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. We long to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. It is also through the gift of this faith community that I have learned to see the profound historical and spiritual impact of the stronghold of white supremacy, and where I have been challenged to broaden and deepen my understanding of discipleship in the hopes of becoming a serious enough Christ follower who is able to meaningfully participate with those who have risen up in defiance of this evil principality.
The lessons learned in this journey have been captured in a pair of books on race. The first, White Awake, explores the barriers that white people tend to face – white Christians specifically – when we attempt to awaken to and understand white supremacy through a faith lens. I spend a lot of time here addressing the internal defenses that are bound to go off when this journey is taken seriously, and I chart out a path for developing a resilient spirit that steadfastly moves towards truth, justice, and equity. The second, White Lies, further builds out the path for the white Christian who longs to actively participate in the resistance and confrontation of white supremacy. I spend a lot of time here exploring why it is so hard to tell the truth about race, as well as expose the lies that sustain it, within white, Christian, Bible-believing environments. I then propose nine practices that position us for engaging in this task.
On the personal front, my career started in the marketplace, as I was part of three dot.com startups in the 90’s. My vocational path shifted when I joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in 1998, and I spent five years working there. I started River City Community Church in January 2003 and have been happily serving here ever since. On the education front, my undergrad was in Business (Purdue University), my graduate degree in theology (Moody Bible Institute), and my doctoral degree in community development (Northern Seminary). On the family front, my wife is a Professor of Psychology, and we have two amazing children (Xander and Gabriella).
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