“Transformation is not a passive process.
It is a process in which we continue to make choices and our character develops.”
Ask anyone in church if they desire to grow in their faith, to become more like Christ, and the usual response is “Yes.” Follow that question with another, “What are you doing now for that to happen?” and the usual response is a puzzled look. Rarely does the average church member think about intentional steps for growing in their faith. Others mistakenly believe that regular attendance in worship does the job. Make no mistake, regular worship is vital for a growing faith. But alone, from any other intentional practices, worship will accomplish little in spiritual growth.
I have written a book, Faith Journey: a Pathway for Traveling with Christ, which is really a curriculum in Christlikeness. This fourteen-week journey with a small group looks at the nature of discipleship, the five irreducible faith practices of a follower of Jesus and guides each person in the development of a personal, intentional, spiritual growth plan for becoming more Christlike. In one sense, this curriculum is a “starter kit” for beginning an authentic walk with Jesus that leads to personal transformation.
Dallas Willard is right that spiritual transformation does not just happen because we wish for it. We clearly see this truth with our physical bodies. If we desire to be physically fit and full of energy what is required is intentional practices of regular exercise and good choices with our diet. No one has ever “wished” pounds off. Choices must be made and acted on.
Fortunately, there is help with nearly every desire for change. Alcoholics Anonymous has helped countless people move away from an unhealthy dependence on alcohol, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig have assisted many in losing weight, and similar support groups for other difficulties abound. Rarely does someone have to “go it alone” when seeking transformation. But in every one of these organizations, membership is followed by intentional practices. Faith Journey (available on Amazon.com by placing “W. Douglas Hood, Jr.” in the search engine) was written to be your partner in spiritual transformation. Naturally, there are other resources available that guide the individual along a pathway of spiritual growth. One of the best is Discipleship Essentials by Greg Ogden, also available on Amazon. Regardless of the resource selected, transformation of character into that of Christ will require the kind of intentionality these resources provide. Yes, each of these resources requires energy and effort. But I ask you not to think of it as “homework” but, rather, as “faithwork.” Your life will be changed.