Many times I am asked what exactly my function is at our church. This occurred last Wednesday night. Upon hearing my answer, a lifelong United Methodist (I serve a Methodist Church) replied that he still did not understand as he had never heard of such a position. So here it is:
My official title is “Director of Spiritual Formation.” What does that mean? Well, as of yet, I don’t actually have a written job description, but my calling is to help every person I meet to connect to God in a deeper and more meaningful way. That is it. One sentence. Pretty simple, right? But he still did not understand. This is a relatively new concept in the world of very static and well-defined positions in the Western Church. So I explained that every person connects to God in a different way: some through Bible study, some through prayer, some through feeding the homeless, some through arc welding, some through running, some through building homes in Nicaragua, some through sitting by the lake and listening to the wind, and on and on and on…
We are all made in the image of God to have deep communion with Him. He exists in all creation, and my job is to help everyone that I can to figure out how best that happens for them. I have the best job in the entire world, for nothing gives me greater joy than to see a person finally understanding how treasured they are by the Creator of the universe.
Having said all that, my job is not a book salesman. I just wanted to make that clear with this post. I don’t make any money or receive benefit of any kind by selling anyone a book. So when I recommend a book to read, know that it is just because it has meant something to me in my spiritual journey, and it might mean something to you. So I want to make it as easy as I can for you to have access to it.
So, on to today’s reflection.
In the past 3 years, I have read and studied over 100 books on christian spirituality. Some, I have been transformed by. Some, I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on. However, I am a student of learning how God communicates with us, so I can pass those ideas on to you. Maybe it is just what you are looking for. Maybe not.
The following is a quote from a book that has been a cornerstone for my own spiritual growth over the past few years. It is written by James Bryan Smith, a United Methodist minister, in his book “The Good and Beautiful God.” Consider the meaning of this statement:
“The chief point is that there is only one thing that separates us from God, and it is not our sin. It is our self-righteousness. Our self-righteousness does not turn God from us, but us from God. It is my sin that moves me away from God, it is my refusal of grace, both for myself and for others.” (page 102; Kindle edition)
I have wrestled with this statement for about 2 1/2 years. And it has had a profound impact on my relationship with Jesus.
I invite you to meditate on it over the weekend. Think deeply about it. Pray over it. See what it says to you. I can tell you that it is the exact opposite of what I had always believed about my relationship with God, and it has challenged me. On Monday, I will share my conclusions (as of today.) But I think it would be good for all of us to spend some time forming our own beliefs on this issue. That is the heart of our personal growth; considering the critical issues for ourselves and not just accepting others’ opinions on a superficial level.
If you feel as if you would like to explore the book more deeply, you are welcomed to purchase it either in hard copy or kindle format from our Amazon Store:
Happy Friday Friends!
“At Levi’s house, many tax collectors and other sinners—Jews who did not keep the strict purity laws of the Jewish holy texts—were dining with Jesus and His disciples. Jesus had attracted such a large following that all kinds of people surrounded Him. When the Pharisees’ scribes saw who shared the table with Jesus, they were quick to criticize:
Scribes (to His disciples): If your master is such a righteous person, then why does He eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners, the worst among us?
Jesus heard them.
Jesus (to the scribes): People who have their health don’t need to see a doctor. Only those who are sick do. I’m not here to call those already in good standing with God; I’m here to call sinners to turn back to Him.”
Mark 2: 15-17