Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review - Christ Formked in You (Part V)

While the previous section outlines some helpful practical thoughts on change, the final three chapters outline in more detail some helpful, and often overlooked, factors in our transformation into the image of Christ.

The first chapter, on disciplines, is perhaps the most obvious factor (and certainly most written about recently) - spiritual disciplines. A single chapter will obviously not cover these in detail (found more fully in works by the likes of Don Whitney and others), but Hedges discusses how these are involved in our change. We cannot expect to successfully be holy without discipline, but they are spiritual disciplines because we cannot succeed by effort alone, and only with the Spirit's help. The amazing reality of change is that Christ was holy with no other means than those available to us, such as prayer, biblical meditation, and other disciplines (outlined in a very helpful table as inward, outward and corporate [more on corporate later] - Hedges uses few diagrams and tables, but they are always very useful. Ultimately, the spiritual disciplines are methods in which to keep our hearts full of the gospel and Christ.

The last two chapters discuss elements not often covered in detail when discussing the process of change in the Christian life. Suffering is is full of it, and we have little choice over how much and what kinds we suffer. But how we react has an enormous role on how we change. We must remember that suffering is always for the good of the believer, from the providential hand of God, a loving Father. It is used to teach us many thing - discipline, compassion, drawing us away from idols and this world. Finally, community is vital in our process to change. I personally found this a very helpful reminder, and it is often forgotten in books such as this. We were made to be relational, with God and with others, and those relationships are essential to our growth - not easy, but essential! Hedges outlines obstacles to community (individualism, busyness and other factors), and discusses the nature of the church (form Acts 2:42-3, covering the essential elements), but ultimately the point is that transformation is a community project. We cannot make it on our own. In community we get together and show love, speak truth, confront sin and stir up one another. I especially liked the thought that the people in our lives will last forever...transformation is not all about how I can grow...its about how we can grow.

I have enjoyed the book tremendously. I will read it again, soon, and try to make the concepts more real and well practiced in my life. I may even use it as the basis for a series of Sunday School lessons. It has been manna for my soul, and I heartily add my voice to the recommendations of others far better and wiser than I.

Note: I am reviewing this from a PDF version provided by the author, Brian Hedges


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