11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor 13:11-12)
The goal of the Christian life is spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is about becoming more like Christ over time. The manifestation of this maturity is love. This kind of love, of course, is not the usual emotional high that we feel for someone in the opposite sex. Instead this is the kind of love that Jesus exemplified and commanded (Mark 12:29-31). It is authentic and passionate — a sincere love for God and for others. Jesus modeled this kind of love in His life and ministry. We can see this in his lifestyle and behavior — i.e. in His words and actions. Growing in this kind of love is what spiritual maturity is all about.
The secret to this transformation is the work of God in the human heart through the Holy Spirit. But the follower of Christ must respond in faith and cooperate with the grace of God. “Grace is not against effort but against earning,” says Dallas Willard. God’s role and man’s participation results in spiritual formation (Phil 2:12-13). Through His word, God reveals the truth about us. As we begin to know this truth, three things will happen.
- We will appreciate grace.
- We will appropriate grace
- We will activate grace
When these things happen, God works in and through us to make us willing and able to fulfill His will. This is how we change from glory to glory. This is what spiritual transformation is all about. But what does it mean to appreciate, appropriate and activate grace? I will talk about it in my next post.