Recently I read an article that asks the question “How was Jesus formed spiritually?” Obviously, Jesus was God in human form, but he still learned and grew as he lived on this earth. Although a veil of sorts largely covers the early life of Jesus, through small glimpses we know that Jesus was formed spiritually. The article even refers to the verse in Luke 2: 52 which tells us that Jesus grew “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Still, the question is “how” did Jesus gain this wisdom?
Certainly Jesus’ parents were instrumental in his formation. Jesus grew up in their home and Jesus obeyed his parents. As well, we can gather that Jesus learned from his friends and elders. I can imagine that he had some interesting discussions growing up as a boy and in traveling with his family, for instance, to Jerusalem for the Passover. He also learned from (and taught) the teachers in the temple as we read in Luke 2: 41-50. The verse about Jesus’ growing in wisdom and stature concludes this story in Luke’s gospel.
Just as Jesus grew spiritually, I have been spiritually formed. Indeed, we all have. As I think about how I have been formed, I am thankful for countless individuals who have invested in me and helped form me spiritually. The list is too long to recount, but quickly I think of parents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, friends, seminary professors and of course, church members. Each of these people and more took time to invest in my education and development. Like Jesus’ mentors, my mentors cared enough to love me and nurture me in the faith. As well, I attend to my own spiritual formation as I seek to develop regular spiritual disciplines in my life. These practices, such as regular Bible reading and personal devotional time, are vital for the Christian seeking to deepen his or her faith.
As I think about that article, perhaps it appeals to me because we are in the season of formation. A definition of formation is “the act of giving or taking form, shape or existence”. And that reminds me of new life. This is the season of Easter where we celebrate the power of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection calls us to new life and forms us since it is through faith in the risen Christ that we are called Christians and followers of Jesus. As well, in this season of spring we see the formation of God’s creation. Trees are leafing and flowering. Buds are blooming. Grass is growing. And unfortunately for some, pollen is blowing as our stuffed up sinuses tell us.
The thought of the formation of our creation was made more real to me last week as Priscilla and I had an opportunity to spend the night at a camp west of Woodland Park. It was at an elevation of 9,200 feet. The following morning, we took a hike to see the beautiful setting of the camp. Walking through the woods let us see the new pine trees and undergrowth sprouting up. Walking the labyrinth and sitting by the lake provided an opportunity for quiet and peaceful reflection. The mirror reflections of a nearby mountain peak and trees in the lake were an impressive sight and they reminded me that we too mirror the majesty of our creator as we seek God and remain in right relationship with him.
As Christians modeling our life after Jesus, we seek to grow as he did. We understand that we need formation as Jesus did. We are called to cultivate relationships and practices which will help us grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually. How is your formation coming along?
— Pastor Bill