What is Jesus Shaped Spirituality?
Here’s my working definition: “Jesus Shaped Spirituality is the discipleship, character change and community that are produced by following Jesus as he was revealed in his historical, fully human incarnation, as recorded in the New Testament, especially the four canonical Gospels.”
In shorthand, Jesus Shaped Spirituality stands on the corner between the study of Jesus- especially the historical Jesus- and the formation of discipleship on every level.
I Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
Mark 1:17 And Jesus said to them, Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.
Philippians 3: 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
II Corinthians 3: 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Through the “doors” of the study of Jesus and the process of discipleship I will be able to take in almost every conceivable subject, but I plan to be disciplined in my posting and relate whatever subjects I address to one or both of the basic “missions” of the site.
There are many questions- fundamental questions- to be answered in this discussion.
Can we speak of a historical Jesus? How does the New Testament integrate with what we can know about Jesus and his world? Is it possible to know and follow an incarnational/historical Jesus? And if so, how can a Christian not fall into the errors of putting too much emphasis on the historical Jesus, at the expense of the full Christ of New Testament faith?
What kind of disciple was Jesus seeking to form in his ministry and teachings? What processes and influences form that disciple? How do the ancient and common spiritual disciplines contribute to spiritual formation? What can other disciplines- such as psychology and anthropology- tell us about spiritual formation? What can the various Christian traditions contribute? How does the work of the Trinity, and particularly the Holy Spirit, influence spiritual formation? What kind of communities and communal activities work toward spiritual formation?
How does a disciple of Jesus “abide” in Christ? What role do institutions, churches and denominations play in the Christian life? How do we understand the work of God and the work of the individual in spiritual transformation? What kind of connections to each other are important for disciples in the process of spiritual formation?
How much can we learn from the Gospels and the New Testament about what it would have been like to be discipled by Jesus? How does the “kingdom of God” relate to the life of Jesus-followers? How “religious” is the process of spiritual formation?
These are some of the questions worth exploring as we stand on the corner of understanding all we can about Jesus and the process of spiritual formation.
I look forward to having you as a reader and to continuing the conversation on these and many other questions that we will discover at the intersection called “Jesus Shaped Spirituality.”