Spiritual Formation Over A Lifetime: The Life of Peter

God always begins with us where we are; not where we wish we were. In Peter’s case, though he was a successful fisherman, that meant “uneducated and ordinary” (Acts 4.13). “Starting where we really are” is a core formational thought that explains much of the biblical narrative from: “Adam, where are you?” to the calling of Abraham and Jesus’ calling of the twelve and his various conversations with everyday people. But this is also a great promise: our starting point is not definitive. Movement – the direction of one’s movement, the end to which one is moving- is our focus in the formation of our souls into Christlikeness.

The Apostle Peter may be the shining example in the New Testament of one who started from a significantly confused, mixed, halting place—and who through transformation gained by following Jesus, became a founding father in the faith. In turn Peter could be humble, be told: “Get behind me, you have in mind the things of men,” be full of zeal for God, fiercely proclaim love for Jesus and also deny him.

In this series, we will discover what it might mean to give our whole selves to the whole process of spiritual formation as Peter described it (2 Peter 1: 5 – 11):

…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter’s parting words in his last letter comprise our aim for this series: to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Epiphany Readings: Sunday, February 2

Readings:  Psalm 15 and Matthew 5:1-12

Reflection Questions:

  1. Some of what we hear in the Beatitudes (Mt.5:1-12) is a description of the kinds people who God invites into relationship with him in his kingdom.  No one is exempt from his blessing. Can you identify with any of these human conditions of body, soul and social self? If so, how have you or do you experience God’s blessing in poverty of spirit, grief over losses in life, trouble and trouble making situations, challenges of faith, rejection from others?
  2. What ways do you need God’s intervention, comfort or support in your life today? Spend some time in prayer asking God’s Spirit to shelter with love, sustain in weakness or bolster faith in your present condition.
  3. As you talk with God about what’s going on in your life, how might you see your present condition as an open door for God to come, work, transform or bless you with his goodness?

Epiphany Readings: Sunday, January 26

Readings: Psalm 27:1, 4-9 and Matthew 4:12-23

Reflection Questions:

  1. Sit quietly turning your attention toward God; his warmth and assuring presence with you now and always.As you read and reflect on Psalm 27 notice the important questions the psalmist asks himself in v.1. In the safety of God’s presence, ask yourself: What do I fear? Fear can be inhibiting and lead to a spiritual paralysis that prevents healthy, forward movement in faith. Explore any shadowy sides of your life; any fearful illusions harbored in your heart. Bring them into the light of God’s presence as you talk to him openly about them.
  2. Jesus’ good news is the arrival of the Kingdom of heaven: it’s here, now. What perceptions or misconceptions do you have about the God’s kingdom? How might the prophetic description of the kingdom of God (Matt.4:15-16) and the demonstration of its power (v.23) shape your understanding of God’s kingdom?
  3. As he did with his first followers, Jesus still meets people where they live and work. Jesus invites us both to enter into the dynamic of God’s kingdom life and to partner with him in his kingdom mission. What invitations might God be giving to you to enter more deeply into his kingdom life or partner with him in his kingdom work? What are the things you’ll need to let go of or turn from in order to follow Jesus today?

– Elizabeth Khorey