Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Romans 12:2; Isaiah 64:8; Luke 15: 11-31
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
It is important to come to terms with the idea that we are all being shaped by forces outside ourselves. Anyone who thinks they live and think independently of influence is fooling themselves. From the media we digest to our family history, we’ve all have been and are continuing to be formed.
Spiritual Formation is simply the process we decide to enter when we want Jesus to be that ultimate shaping influence. Romans teaches us not to conform to the patterns of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. When something is conformed it is passively allowing itself to be shaped by outside forces. But when something is transformed there is intention and trajectory to its path. For us to be transformed into Christlikeness we must decide to move in the direct of Jesus and be led by the Holy Spirit. Dallas Willard says the intention to be formed in our thinking means invited God’s presence into our thought life.
For our minds to be transformed to the point of renewal, we must rewire much of the way we think about God, ourselves, and the world around us. The best way to do this is to meditation on what God tells us about all these topics. But we can’t just flippantly read these words and move on. We have to do what Eugene Peterson describes as “chewing on scripture”. Like a dog with a bone, we need to sink our teeth into God’s words for us and let it form in us a new way of thinking.
- What are a few things that most shape the way you see God, yourself, and the world? How does that influence reflect or distract from what God says about these areas?
- Isaiah 64:8 says that God is the potter, and we are the clay. But we’re not a passive lump on the table like clay. Because we are free living beings, we must decide to relent our way of thinking to be shaped as God intends or spend our life fighting against that shaping. Which is truer of your life? What are the barriers to submitting yourself to be formed by God? If you have been fighting God’s formation, ask yourself why.
- Luke 15:11-31 gives us a picture of God’s character in His own words. Read the story outload together. What stands out most to you? What does this story tell us about God as a Father?
Many of us get rattled by the story of the prodigal son. On the one hand the father seems generous and kind. On the other it seems the father is naive and overly gracious. Some might think the second brother is self-righteous and cold-hearted. Others might think he’s justified in his anger and that the father is foolish. Wherever you fall on these thoughts, consider what this story might be stirring in you and why.
Spend some time praying for one another. For those who have a hard history with the idea of God as a father because of their own lived experiences, pray for comfort and peace. For those who have resisted being shaped by God, pray for His presence to be near to them. For all of us, pray for our minds to be set on God as a good, patient, forgiving, and gracious Father.