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well hey good morning south good morning I’m yvonne one of the pastors here and you have met us today in the middle of a vision series what if we and we just sang about vision lord be our vision and vision is something that we look forward to something that we imagine and pastor alex shared with us kind of his vision statement and I’d like to just begin today by reading this for you what if we and he we’re talking here about our fellowship of south fellowship believers but this can also apply to the church in this local area what if we we really became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching and because this is a vision statement and vision happens when we start to rethink and re-imagine what might happen in a community with a new vision I’d like to do something a little bit more unusual for sermons today and actually give you a second to envision what this statement might look like so I want to give you some quiet space to think and imagine what would it be like if we became a Jesus people that were relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching so let me give you a second to just think about this

maybe you need more time to envision what this looks like but you can spend time this week mulling that over and here we are in the middle of our series and today we are going to look even more at what it looks like to be deeply formed and we’ve said that our mission statement is not changing um that we want to walk in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus and we want to do that being deeply formed and thankfully pastor alex said hey yvonne since you’re our formation pastor and you went through christian formation and soul care at denver seminary maybe you have some things to share about this well he’s right I actually have a lot of things to share about it and what I have had to do with the lord is really sit there and say what does this community need to hear today and today he has brought me just to answer a couple questions that might be floating in your mind when we when we use this phrase deeply formed I think some of you are going to just ask what does it mean what does it mean to be deeply formed right I think you guys might be asking why in the world do we need to be deeply formed I mean maybe we need to be formed but well why deeply formed why do we use that kind of adverb there and how I think this is a big question how do we become deeply formed so today that’s the questions that I want to help you answer and hopefully we can do that with the spirit of God speaking to you and also through his word so today as we lean in the lord directed me to a passage just a five word phrase in the book of galatians and so we’re going to open our bibles today to galatians chapter 4 starting in verse 19.

he says my dear children for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth

until christ is formed in you how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone because I am perplexed by you

hmm we need some context for this passage and then we’re going to dive a little bit further into this phrase until christ is formed in you and I’d like for us to chisel away at what in the world did paul mean when he used this particular phrase in the greek language but here we have the apostle paul this is in a letter that he has written to the galatians so these are people kind of in a dispersed area and if you know much about the apostle paul you’ll know that he was once saul and he became paul he had this incredible transformation because the spirit of the living God showed up to him and says saul you are no longer saul you are paul and I’m giving you the identity that I’ve placed in you and you are going to walk in a new way and you are going to be on mission for me and my kingdom letting those that are outside the jewish faith know that Jesus wants to transform them too and in this letter to the galatians paul is sending it out to these people that were formerly jews and there they have also accepted the way of Jesus they wanted to walk in his way and they’re realizing that paul’s mission is to invite the outsiders and to come into the way of Jesus but it’s tricky because their way that they know to follow Jesus is the jewish way and so they’ve been doing these traditions all along throughout their entire people’s history to to understand who God is to to hear from him to become right with him and so when paul introduces them to a new way it becomes somewhat confusing at what level do the non-jewish people become jewish or take on the the jewish savior and so they’re struggling and I think we would be in the same boat if we were with them if we had had the jewish faith we would be asking some of these same questions and the big question for them was don’t the gentiles the ones who are not jews don’t they need to be circumcised now how many of you want to sign up for that kind of transformation that’s not a compelling story and I think actually we need a compelling story we need this to be deeply formed because we need something to show to the world paul had this compelling story and he calls out he says guys I’m perplexed by you why are you making it about the old way he says dear children in one little moment I think he insults them and he like strengthens them by saying come on guys your children you can you can come with me you can grow up and he’s so like stirred up inside that they’re not growing up into and taking the way of Jesus he even uses this motherly kind of metaphor it’s like these people have been in the the womb of judaism for so long and they they’re safe in there and they know that way and they’re growing and they’re they’re learning and they’re you know getting whatever nutrients they need but he’s like ah the goal of actually becoming pregnant is like not to stay in the womb like the goal is to like come out into the wild world and like develop and grow and be formed and so he’s like uh it feels like I’m in pain birth I’m in labor with you so that you might actually be free and and live in this way and he says until christ is formed in you this phrase in greek is such a jam-packed meaningful phrase that when I asked the lord what he wanted me to share with you today he just said just talk about christ be formed in you okay so here we go we’re gonna start actually in in the greek language the word that comes first in is not how we would say it in english christ is formed in you it would be be formed so we’re going to actually talk about is formed and this greek word that I have a hard time saying because it feels like I’m slurring my speech so all you greek experts you can pronounce it and we’re just going to go with more thoth okay okay so the crazy part about this word it is jam-packed with theological meaning because this word has unique tense and connotations it is a subjective mood which means that paul is saying I wish that this happens for you it’s passive tense meaning on your behalf you’re not doing the verb you’re actually the verb is being done to you so paul wishes this to happen on your behalf so that this happens and we have in english we have past tense formed present tense forming future tense will be formed right and you could play around with some of the language there but in greek they have something called aerist tense which actually has the meaning that something in the past has happened okay you have been formed past tense but it also includes the it will be completed at a future date so that’s the shall so this word in one little word paul says I wish this to happen on your behalf that you shall and have been formed that’s crazy we don’t have this kind of stuff in english language and this is a huge theological word he says that you have been formed and your formation shall be made complete by some means other than you in the future formation is such an incredible word because it’s jam-packed with meaning and you know what formation is a creation word we have been created we are being created we will be created in the new way so I love this because this is the formation story the forming happened in the beginning where we are formed and it says in genesis 2 or 1 that we are formed in the likeness of God we have in us his image that’s imago dei that’s what the hebrew word means we have the image of God in us and back in the garden we had this moment of formation where we were formed in his image and we were in harmony with him we were living in that image and what we chose was we chose to separate we said ah we don’t really want to live in harmony with you we kind of just want to do our own thing we want to separate the best way I can describe this is it feels like we told God that we wanted a divorce we said I don’t really want to be in this relationship anymore and so we’re going to separate and this actually causes disharmony in us we’re not actually living in alignment with who we’ve made been made to be and so we feel this kind of disorder inside that’s what separation does and that’s what the word sin is separation we miss the mark we we’re separating and the goodness of this story is that God says I know you want a divorce I know that you want separation but I don’t and so I’m going to actually come in your likeness I’m going to take the very nature of a servant being found in the appearance as a man and I’m gonna humble myself to commune with you to come close to you even though you don’t really want me and so he become he takes on our form our likeness in order that through his powerful resurrection that we can be offered that again we are offered new creation where we are made in his likeness and we can unify with him this is the amazing part of formation and the whole formation story

formation is this process that God actually wove into the fabric of the world he did it on a macro level and he also does it on these micro levels and it’s for us to live in dependence on him this formation process is a journey it’s not a destination we are formed along the way and one day once we are in glory we have been have received our most powerful resurrection then it will be at its completion completed moment but until that point we are on this journey we are on the journey of formation past tense present tense future tense and the truth is about formation is that we can be formed in any way right you guys all know that it’s written in the fabric of the way that we are designed right an infant comes to live it becomes a child and adolescent an adult like we all form that’s not news to us but what kind of forming are we doing paul says in another letter or in romans he said for all those that he foreknew he predestined to become conformed into the image of his son this is actually even more beautiful because we were given imago day we were given the image of God from the beginning but now we actually get to be more like his son that’s an exciting part and it’s christ that anchors all of this formation journey christos is the word that paul uses and this christos is also packed with meaning christos is is the royal name for Jesus he is the son of God the one who was anointed for God’s purposes he was the messiah of the jewish faith the one who was going to come to redeem and save and heal and and make things back into alignment with the way that they were designed to be

christ is the center of our formation we become like christ and in this way all of those words if we put those together when we form like christ we too are God’s relation paul talks a lot about adoption into his family in the gospel of or I said it again in the the letter to the galatians we’re God’s relations we are also like christ we are set a port apart for God’s purposes and we too get to be a part of reconciling others to God yeah that’s a part of our formation in christ’s likeness that we get to do some of the same things that christ did and the other part is that we actually get a person as a part of this process it’s not just a process it’s a person which means we can actually know christ we can know him as a person second person of the trinity the the only begotten of God the father and paul says that this is maybe one of the most important things to his formation journey he says I consider everything a loss and he’s he’s done a lot he’s had by this time he’s at the end of his life and he has seen a lot of transformation happen and it doesn’t even matter what he’s able to do for God what he loves most is that he gets Jesus christ in relationship with him he says it’s all a loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing christ being in this journey together being in communion and union with him and a part of that communion and union is that he gets to experience the power of resurrection he got to see transformation in his own life and all around him and he had to participate with him when he went through those sufferings he is wit God Jesus christ was with him in that place and that’s a beautiful thing when we go through places of suffering and heartache and hardship we go through it with a person and we get to experience his resurrection because he’s the one in charge this is his royal name he is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty and he’s the one that has authority to to say yes you can be transformed and he wants to do that for us so becoming like Jesus in his death and somehow attaining the resurrection of the dead I love how paul says that I don’t really understand it but somehow it’s working because as I walk this journey of formation in the image of christ somehow he he is helping me resurrect he is changing me from the old to the new you know in in my life I feel like recently God has taken me from places of of self-pitying to gratitude and that’s transformation that’s resurrection places where I was just dreading life to now singing a new song and having it be in my heart that’s transformation in the image of christ it’s way more in alignment gratitude and and love and songs of praise and worship is in alignment with who I made to be and so as we form in the image of christ he sets us free to be who we were made to be and another beautiful thing is that we’re forming into christ’s likeness it happens when we embrace the way of death and resurrection this is beautiful to me because it seems like we don’t like this process but it’s built into the very fabric of the world that we live in and when we trust this process it works when we move from summer into fall and and the leaves and all the things trust the ecological process of dying and going through their burial and renewing and coming back to life it works this past easter I was in a season where I was like Jesus I just want some green around me and I went on a search and I just said I want to see new life I want to be reminded that it works and so I took a long walk on the high line canal and there was one little spring of green and I took a picture and I was like this is it it works in in the way of Jesus new life will come back and I my heart needed to be reminded that it works if it works in his creation it’ll work in me and it’ll work in you

as we embrace this process we love Jesus in the process we embrace his process of maturing this is along the whole journey and it means that that the whole journey we trust we trust that it is in all of life and it is for all of life there is no checking the box of formation on the spiritual journey guys you don’t just fall asleep and see formation happen you gotta lean in and it’s gotta affect all of life that’s the the part here at the end of his phrase he says christ is formed in you this little tiny word in is a preposition that is the closest we can be we’re not this is not christ is formed by or near you or christ is formed over you christ is form under you those aren’t the prepositions that he uses he says christ is formed in you you guys can think of all the in words that you can think of inside integrate interconnected in it’s us in something it’s it’s like the most connected you can get and the the cool part about this is it’s dative okay this is another nerdy little note uh of greek it’s a beneficiary action we get to benefit from being in christ and Jesus told us this when he was on earth he says abide in me and I in you this is how we do this it’s it’s together it’s unified and this word is a plural which means it’s not just in individuals it’s in all of us as a church body it’s in all of those who follow and say I’m a follower of Jesus and and believe in the power of his resurrection forming in christ is most intimate it’s unified it’s communion and it integrates that word in into the deepest places in our character we are to be formed all of us there’s nothing off the table

paul loves this language if you want to do a study in all of his letters and just search for the word in you’re going to be like you probably could spend the whole life doing this he loves this word in that you’ve been included in christ when you heard the message of truth the gospel of your salvation when you believed you were marked in him with the seal and the promised holy spirit the gift of the holy spirit that he gives us allows us to live very close very in God that’s incredible right

I think so then just as you received christ Jesus as lord continue to live in him this is paul’s paul’s like urging saying I just I’m gonna labor with you until you’re until christ is formed in you you know like continue to live in him and that’s why in the world do we need deep formation guys I don’t maybe you’re realizing oh yeah I really need to be deeply formed or maybe you’re sitting next to being like oh this person next to me yeah they really need to be deeply formed especially after that conversation we had last night whatever you know like we all long for other people to be deeply formed and we long for the world to be deeply formed maybe in your imagination during that time at the beginning you were thinking we want to see more peace among our world we want to see more hope more future more graciousness between people we want to see more true love demonstration sacrifice to one another we long for this world to be resolved we hate that in the formation story we hate when things are disharmonized within us we hate the fact that we’re feeling anxious or feeling uncomfortable or just feeling angry like but we have this invitation to be resolved and that is a compelling story

the problem is we all really like the easy way do you like the easy way I like the easy way I mean it’s like way easier to be lazy on this journey and like drift toward disharmony it’s way easier to choose to put on a tv show and just numb out rather than like going to have that difficult conversation right like it’s way easier to procrastinate our formation because it’s just too uncomfortable to like tend to that little bit of bitterness and resentment that’s inside I don’t really want to deal with that so I’ll just we’ll do that tomorrow you know it’s like easier to like drink a glass of wine and just not feel it and and maybe some of it is like we’re scared like is God really going to come through if I choose to to be formed like is that really going to work and maybe so maybe I doubt that it actually could work or I just really like to be in control my kingdom under my reign and control is way more comfortable way more easy we often choose the easy way instead of the harder kind of soul shaping like dealing with your emotions kind of way but you know for these galatians they also chose an easy way and their easy way was religion

do you know if that’s the easy way

choosing religion and religion

I mean he was really upset with him that they would choose a different way of religion he’s astonished that the galatians would so quickly desert the one who called them to live in the grace of christ and turn to a different good news which is really no good news at all

evidently some people are throwing thrown into confusion and they’re trying to pervert the good news of Jesus the judaizers were wanting people to become like them not to become like christ and that’s actually somewhat a way of religion you know as I reflect on the way of religion I think religion is motivated by shame like you’re not doing or being enough of what you should be doing that’s actually the easy way

maybe the way of religion is just faithful efforts or spiritual disciplines to to be in God’s graces they wanted the the gentiles to be circumcised so that they could be in God’s good graces it worked for them in the past

and so they wanted to to be in God’s good graces how often do we just do some some spiritual something just to be in God’s good graces or maybe if I do this he will um do something for me maybe if I do ministry for him maybe if I just say this little kind thing or I pray this certain kind of prayer and and I think that he’s going to to help me but really that’s manipulation

maybe we rely on old patterns to produce new fruit it’s easier to go back to what we knew what was safe what we were trained in once and it’s harder to try a new riskier way

we like to remain in control and refuse to surrender or we fight the wrong battles we make it about the people around us and trying to make sure that they’re doing what they need to be doing when maybe the formation process is actually what we need

and maybe we need to be fighting the enemy and not our brother and sister I think these are ways actually of religion and maybe this week you need to reflect on wow have I chosen the easy way of religion or have I chosen the way of formation because donna winship puts it this way she says Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion he didn’t need a new religion he came to usher in a kingdom of God to facilitate spiritual transformation let me say that again Jesus didn’t come to start a religion but he came to usher in the kingdom of God to facilitate transformation transformation is the compelling story of Jesus and we need this compelling story we’ve got to let go of religion and embrace this integrated lifestyle of formation where we actually live out our God-given purpose and we listen to our father in heaven we actually are seeing new fruit because we choose surrender

you know here at south we we’re a church and some might think that oh we’re just a religion but we’re not everything that we try to do here at south is to provide ways for you to grow and be formed in the way of christ and we’ve chosen some specific programs to really try to assist in your journey along the way so of course we’ve got a bunch of groups available and we would love for you to be a part of of community because we know that formation happens in the circle of other like-minded friends of the kingdom

you know when you’re in this place we we rub off on one another and we learn different things and we gotta resolve conflicts and but we also get support and we get encouragement this this week I was sitting around a campfire and it was my task to to to finish up the campfire because I’m the late owl you know and so I was spreading away the the coals and the lord was just like this like bringing the hot coals together is what we can do at church and what we can do in the kingdom we can we can burn together guys and so when you join a group you’re you’re joining other people that want to be formed and want to just hold themselves to the fire that we can be more and more refined in the way of christ

and then we also have another class that’s going to be starting up in september called emotionally healthy relationships and maybe this is something where in the way of Jesus he’s asking you to to find some new tools to try some new ways to nurture good conflict conversations and and on honoring one another with your words as you just try to advocate for your own values and and who you are so maybe that’s a great place for you to be formed more in the image of christ by giving you some tools to do that another amazing space where we see God transforming people’s lives is in a group that meets right here on tuesday nights at 6 30 p.m and it’s called celebrate recovery and I want you to hear directly from our one of our leaders I did a little interview with her this earlier this week and I want you to hear what it is that actually causes the transformation in that group well here we have nicole pastore who has been serving with our cr program celebrate recovery for the last six years here at south and then a few other years back in minnesota before coming yes yeah so I’m curious as we’re talking about formation what is it that makes cr transformative what do you think one is finding a program where you can be broken in and finding acceptance in that brokenness is a huge part of the transformation that we see at celibate recovery because so many times people come in and they’re afraid to truly be where they are and that’s broken in whether it’s an addiction a hang-up a hurt whatever it might be so what we find at celebrate recovery is that when people are able to connect and we find that me too factor it makes it easier to keep coming back yeah and then we just allow God to get in those parts of our soul um and that’s why I call it a soul recovery yeah because that’s what we do we’re soul-searching as to why we go back to an addiction or we go back to a certain predetermined response is that we’re not soul-searching and so when we find that soul-searching and that me too factor that’s where transformation really starts to begin I love that yeah yeah so tell us how are you seeing God transform people in cr in this season um this with this season coming out of the pandemic um we’re finally starting people to let go of the fear the fear of being around people or the fear of what really happened to them during the pandemic we found that a lot of people were relapsing in their addictions or relapsing in their hurts and their pains and I think people are just ready to be with people again and so that’s been such a beautiful process every week we have a new newcomer and that’s why we have our doors open is for that newcomer to find that place to come in and

find family family in their brokenness so I think people are getting out of that fear factor that’s awesome to see people lay down their fears and actually be ready to step into transformation within a community of people I love that and I’m sure many of us are out there and thinking maybe gosh I’ve got some hurts habits or hang-ups that are needing to be dealt with and formed in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus um man if somebody’s sitting out there and they’re still feeling fear or still feeling barriers to maybe being a part of celebrate or part of another group that we have here at south what what kind of encouragement would you have for them today oh the first thing I would say is get out of your own way that’s part of what stops people from coming into any sort of a program especially a christ-centered program is because we feel so often that we have to be better before we can get better and that is a lie that we believe and so I can just all I can say is just get out of your own way just come yeah just show up um there’s no mandated process for this um yeah it’s just being willing to get out of your own way and walk through the doors and let that fear go and if you’re afraid to link to come in by yourself link arms with someone ask somebody to come with you so then you’re not just by yourself or you’re alone or you don’t know anybody it’s just showing up and getting getting out of your own way yeah and I know that you’ve done that personally in your own life nicole what can God do if they show up if you don’t show up you’ll never know what God can do um to watch what God has done in my life and then to turn around and be able to um really truly be a disciple of him because of the concrete transformation that he has done in my life is now to give back and to see that process happen is just giving God that much more room to help it with help other people through it so I love it yeah I love it well if we can just get it out of our own way and get really honest with what we’re wrestling with in a safe and loving community I think God can show up show up and like nicole said we won’t know you won’t know until you engage the process absolutely so thanks nicole thanks yvonne

so let’s go back to our big questions

um I’m all over the place now here we are let’s go back to our big questions okay when you are asked what is formation for straight from galatians is christ being formed in us why do we need formation our hearts long for resolve we long to be living in that imago day that we have been designed to live in we don’t want to live in disharmony we want to live in harmony and we want the fruit of what what it means to live in that place and how the how we do formation I’m sure you’re wondering about this the way of Jesus is the way of death and resurrection he said it was going to cost us something to follow him it was going to cost it was us actually saying I don’t want to to live in that separated place any longer I want to die to that separation whatever separates me so that I can live in the way that he’s designed me to live but this process this is the big story of formation death and resurrection and it’s also the many stories of resurrection throughout our whole life dallas willard says the ruined soul must be willing to hear of and recognize its own ruin before it can find how to enter a different path a path of eternal life that naturally leads to spiritual formation in christ’s likeness we’ve got to admit it we’ve got to get honest about really where we’re at and that’s the beauty of celebrate because she said they’re willing to be broken they’re willing to come in and when and we all have those places in our own lives I bet the lord is pointing out where you have room to grow and be formed today and so the process more practically I think it’s get honest change your mind and walk anew get honest change your mind and walk anew I’m gonna say it again get honest change your mind and walk and I should have you all say it ready get honest change your mind walk anew this is how formation happens guys it’s nothing new but we confess confession true confession is getting honest true confession is not saying I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry true confession is saying wow I am really afraid right now or wow I really don’t trust you God wow this is what’s happening inside of me and I feel this kind of heat rising up and I don’t know what to do about it that’s getting honest and and you take it before the lord and maybe you take it before a safe friend do you know I think this is why like counseling has become one of the most transformative process for people is because they get honest and they bring it to a safe space where they’re received with love and compassion and they’re able to process that and the the counselor or even spiritual director can speak in truth and you can change your mind you can go to the lord and say what is it that you have to say about this and what do you want me to do you can ask him what do you have to say about this you can read that in his word you can ask him directly this is a relationship that we have with a person not a program not a process it’s a person and he will tell you what do you want me to do or what do you have to say about this and then I say okay I’m going to agree with you because you ultimately are you are seated at the right hand of God the father and you ultimately know what’s best for me and so I would like to choose to walk more in my true self by listening to you and you walk anew this is confession it’s the biblical world to repent to actually change your mind that’s the death of something old changing it to something new and abiding in him get honest

change your mind walk anew that’s a basic process of formation and what Jesus can do in all of us if we do this imagine if we woke up every morning and we got honest with God and we said what do you have to say about it what do you want me to do about it and we just chose to walk in his way with his heart what could that do in all of our hearts and what would that do as a community as we live that out together we go to our groups and we say okay we’re going to get honest and we’re going to see what God has to say about that and we’re going to walk anew I think that this actually we would see evidence of form formation and transformation within our community and this is the story that the world needs to hear from us they don’t need a new religion they don’t need people judging them or telling them what to do they need transformed lives and hearts living out this way of Jesus so that they can be invited to the journey as well so I’m going to invite the band back up and I’m going to close us in prayer and my encouragement for you guys at south don’t give up don’t give up this does take effort to lean into the way and formation of Jesus in this season I think that one day we’re going to open our history books and it’s going to say you know great you know pandemic global pandemic coveted 19 and a subheading under that is going to say great resignation

because over 50 percent of people are considering leaving their jobs or have left their jobs they are they are disconnecting from what was was once a part of their life and you know people are doing that in the church too and I just want to say this is not a time to disengage it’s not a time to separate it’s a time to lean in and it’s a time to lean in to be informed in the way of Jesus and so I will echo with paul that we as south fellowship church we’re going to we’re going to labor with you until christ is formed in you and in all of us for the sake of the world amen