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Sunday, March 23, 2008

What is Spiritual Direction in the 21st Century? Part 1

While the question sounds simple, there are many possible answers. For a Christian, all forms of spiritual direction have developed out of the day-in, day-out, relationship that Jesus shared with His twelve disciples.

With nothing more than three years of constant exposure to His life, works, and words, the twelve (actually just eleven) soon became known as those who turned the then-known world upside-down.

Today, spiritual direction can happen via iPhone, text chat, email, mp3, video or audio, ebooks, web sites, books on paper, magazine articles, lectures or sermons, seminars and conferences, retreats and many other ways too numerous to list. But while we can take advantage of technological breakthroughs and online tools for virtually instant communication, there is still no substitute for the life-on-life, face-to-face, heart-to-heart in-person conversations first modeled by Jesus.

Christ’s followers in the 21st century, meeting over coffee, breakfast or lunch, sharing a park bench, or taking a walk or a cross-country trip together, can still plant seeds that will have world-changing results.

These men and women share a common purpose (promoting spiritual growth that encourages the formation of Christ in us—the lifelong goal of becoming more like Him in all of our attitudes, words, relationships, works and actions).

We will pray together and for one another. We will read, study, reflect and share the results of what we learn through our personal discoveries in and by our personal applications of the Word of God. We will encourage one another. We will learn together and grow together. We will do this person-to-person. We will give and receive spiritual direction as peers, mentors, disciplemakers, pastors, teachers, trainers and friends in Christ.

We will often do this one-on-one (men discipling men; women discipling women), sometimes three individuals will meet together in this way, and a small group of 5 to 7 can also provide the accountability and discipline and growth towards a more Christ-centered common life that our world needs to see practiced by Christ’s followers.

If you give direction, encouragement, or counsel, to brothers or sisters in Christ, be sure to do it in reliance upon the Spirit of Christ in you:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

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