Our aim is to help and encourage you to follow Jesus with a daily consistency which allows him to transform you with the new life he offers. This means living a fully human life in this world in union with Jesus Christ, growing in conformity to His image as the Spirit transforms us from the inside-out, being nurtured within a community of disciples who are engaged in that lifelong process, and helping others to know and become like Jesus.
Have we lost our distinctiveness?
“Reams of research confirm the simple observation that in many ways the lives of most professing Christians are not much different from their non-believing neighbours,” says Thomas Tarrants of The C.S.Lewis Institute. He adds, “Like ancient Israel and the church in some periods of history, we have adopted the beliefs, values and behaviours of the surrounding culture to an alarming degree. Although there are exceptions among individuals and congregations, they only serve to confirm the reality.”
Several times Jesus told people that following him would be costly (Matt. 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-23). Tarrants explains, “Jesus meant that it is possible to follow him only by saying a radical no to one’s self-centredness and embracing the hard fact that faithfulness might cost one’s life. Only by decisively reckoning with these sobering realities could people be freed up to follow him faithfully.”
‘Come to me’ says Jesus in Matt. 11:28-30. “He invites all who are weary of burdensome, legalistic religion to cast it off, take up his yoke of discipleship, and learn from him,” adds Tarrant. “Paradoxically his discipleship, while demanding, is easy and his burden is light. This is because Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to empower his disciples to obey his commands. And also because he extends grace and forgiveness when they fail. We need only consider how weak, sinful, and clueless the twelve (disciples) often were during their three years with him and how patient, kind, and forgiving he was toward them. His persistent grace brought transformation to their lives, as it does to all who follow him.”
Grace at work, daily
As we read the Bible we begin to realise that inner transformation is a gift from God to be graciously received. The change in us is God’s work, not ours. We can’t achieve or earn it, it is a grace that is given. As Paul writes to the Romans: ‘But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.’ Romans 5: 17.
Richard Foster poses this question, “If all human strivings end in moral bankruptcy, and if righteousness is a gracious gift from God (as the Bible clearly states) then isn’t it logical to conclude we should wait for God to come and transform us? Strangely enough, the answer is no. The analysis is correct – human striving is insufficient and righteousness is a gift from God – but the conclusion is faulty. Happily there is something we can do. We do not need to be hung on the horns of the dilemma of either human works or idleness. God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.”
We’re encouraging you to exercise daily the Disciplines of the spiritual life (see the Growing Zone), and have produced a series of activities to help you do this (see the Store).
Reminder: Spiritual growth (living as a disciple) is working with God to build a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control; and there is no merit to be gained by doing the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual growth is all a work of grace.