Ways And Means, The Jesus Way (Part 2)

“Following Jesus necessarily means getting his ways and means into our everyday lives. It is not enough simply to recognize and approve his ways and get started in the right direction. Jesus’ ways are meant to be embraced and assimilated into our habits. This takes place only as we pray our following of him. It cannot be imposed from without, cannot be copied. It must be shaped from within. This shaping takes place in prayer. The practice of prayer is the primary way that Jesus’ way comes to permeate our entire lives so that we walk spontaneously and speak rhythmically in the fluidity and fluency of holiness.” –Eugene Peterson (The Jesus Way) 

The first law of spiritual formation is this, “You will become like whoever you spend time with.”

It’s really a law of human personality, the way God made all of us. Children pick up all kinds of mannerisms, habits, voice inflections, thought patterns, attitudes from their parents. Husbands and wives -if they are together long enough- begin to think more alike, to finish one another’s sentences, some even start to look like the other. (That’s bad news for you, honey!) 

Most of this shaping happens at an unconscious level.

Kristin and I have been married for twenty one years. Before we got married, we (or at least I) used to joke that she loved to clean up, and I loved to mess up. It was a perfect match. 

I don’t know when, or how it happened, but I changed. Messes bug me now. Now I clean up after myself, the kids, myself, the dog…oh yeah, and myself. On occasion I’ve been known to vacuum or dust without being asked. Just the other day I even cleaned out my closet. I’ve become more like my wife in other ways too. And for those of you who know her, you know what a good thing that is.

We spend a lot of time together as a family, just by virtue of living under the same roof. Sometimes I have to be a little more intentional about being there, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. As a result, little by little, day after day, without my knowing they are taking place, changes happen. A shaping of lives is going on (for better, and for worse, I’m afraid) all the time. And even though it’s going on all the time, by the time I can see change, much time has passed. But then, real, lasting change always takes a lot of time.

That’s how it is spiritually, but I have to be much more intentional about spending time with Jesus. Even though he has made me for himself, old habits die hard. And I’ll waste all kinds of time on stupid stuff, instead of what matters. So I need to keep watch, and practice the Presence, trusting that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion.

But that’s not all.  If I would be an “imitator of God”, as a dearly loved child, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved me (Eph. 5:1), then I have to study the ways of Jesus, try and understand what he did, and what he said. Maybe more importantly, what he didn’t do and didn’t say. And then I have to do the things he tells me to do. I’m not talking about the walking on water kind of stuff (Although, you’re welcome to try. Just video it and put it on YouTube so the rest of us can watch.), but the simple habits and ways of living that helped him grow in stature and favor with God and man. 

By the way, habits and patterns of life don’t change us, but they do create a space for the Spirit to work in our hearts. Kind of quieting down the clamor of the world so we can give our attention to the One who says, “Put on my yoke and learn from me”, and allowing him to make us new.

Primarily, this happens as we live life with him in prayer. As we ask questions, listen to his words, watch what he is doing and has done, we learn his ways. Jesus, himself, said that’s what he did. “I only say what the Father tells me to say. I only do that which I see the Father doing.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Jesus even if it takes a lifetime to learn.

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4 Responses to “Ways And Means, The Jesus Way (Part 2)”

  1. Some Thoughts About Spiritual Formation « Grace & Peace Says:

    […] My good friend, Seaton Garrett, of Are We There Yet? , has offered some thoughtful reflections about Spiritual Formation, inspired by Peterson’s work, in a post: Ways & Means, The Jesus Way.  […]

  2. Kat Says:

    great post Seaton. it’s go me thinking….on a spiritual level and a parental level.

  3. seaton garrett Says:

    Thanks Kat. It was kind of you to stop by.

    Hope the Small Person and the Smaller Person got their accounting issues worked out. Funny stuff.

  4. Kat Says:

    Yeah, they pretty much constantly keep me laughing….or crying… 🙂

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