Living the Christ life is the most fulfilling life there is, but it comes with a price. The grace that God gives us is not cheap, but rather came with a great cost. We must each intentionally pursue and seek the Lord so that we can experience what it really means to be one of his disciples. The word disciple means ‘learner,’ which should remind us that we never arrive and we must keep learning and growing each day. This formation begins with the heart and then overflows into our actions.
Why do we pursue formation?
In Matthew 5, Jesus preaches his first sermon to the crowds called ‘The Sermon on the Mount.’ He teaches concepts that are contradictory to the world. The word that Jesus continually uses in this passage is ‘Blessed.’ This word is also paired with what seems at times to be a negative connotation, followed by a positive result. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,” etc. Each of these statements appear to begin negative or at least counter-cultural, but the end of each verse is positive. “For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven, they shall be comforted, they shall inherit the earth, they shall be satisfied, they shall receive mercy, they shall see God, they shall be called sons of God, theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” etc.
Jesus teaches his audience that if your heart is humble and positioned toward God, the end result will be good for you. This doesn’t mean that things will always be easy or you will always get what you want, but it does mean that your character is being formed and transformed as a Christian. It’s not about what you do first, but rather who you are. The short-term work is worth the long-term result.
How do we pursue formation?
In order for us to truly be formed more into the image of Jesus and a disciple of him, we must do several things. Here are just a few thoughts.
We must have:
Accessibility: In our culture, making ourselves accessible is almost a foreign concept. We constantly stay so busy and often times isolate ourselves. Not only should we make ourselves accessible to other people and Christians, but more importantly to God. If our hearts are filled with pride, God cannot transform our character and lives. We must first properly position ourselves to receive all that God wants to teach us.
- Honesty: Once we make ourselves accessible, we have to be honest with God, ourselves, and other people. We have to confess and recognize our sins and our need for God, to hear from Him, and rest in His presence. We also have to be honest with other people, particularly other Christians, honest with both our struggles and our victories. Being real brings freedom and helps each of us always take one step forward.
- Accountability: We must also hold others accountable and let others hold us accountable. We will never grow if we aren’t challenged, confronted, and checked in with. As we set goals and areas to improve on in our lives, we need help. We ultimately need God, but God provides other people in our life because we need each other. That’s what the church is for!
What is Vintage Church doing to help us pursue formation?
- Sunday Worship Gatherings: Every Sunday morning Vintage has worship gatherings. These are opportunities to worship God and surround yourself with community. It’s a place of encouragement, inspiration, and mission. A place where you can make yourself accessible, be honest with others, and have accountability. Learn more about Sunday gatherings at vcnola.com/gatherings
- vGroups and Life Groups: Worship gatherings are great, but they alone will not be enough to give you the true boost you need to be formed and transformed daily. Surround yourself with a smaller group of 10-20 people in vGroups to develop real relationships, study God’s Word, and pray together. You can also surround yourself with 2-4 other people of the same gender to have even deeper community, accountability, and discipleship. Learn more about these groups at vcnola.com/joinagroup
- Bible Reading and Prayer: Our church is reading the Bible together in 2018 through the F260 Bible Reading Plan. This is a great tool to use to study the Bible on a daily basis through personal time with God. Another tool is the HEAR Method and Journal, which helps you walk through the Scripture in its context, apply it in your life, and respond in prayer. Learn more about this plan and tool at vcnola.com/f260
We also grow by serving together and reaching others for Christ through outreach. These are also great actions and next steps but cannot be done if the heart is not first formed and transformed. The points above are just a few helpful ways that our church wants to help your heart and character to be transformed as a Christian, so that we can be more effective disciples of Jesus and our actions can be a demonstration of his love us and our love for Him.