What is being formed in you?
Gal. 4:19 My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,
Paul had a very deep and sincere love of his spiritual “children.” His “children” in Galatia had already come to know Christ but they were struggling spiritually. For this reason we find Paul's passionate and personal plea that they continue to grow spiritually. His desire for them to be fully formed spiritually is so great that he prays and intercedes for them with us much passion as a woman who is in labor. While the woman in labor is awaiting the moment when that child will be delivered, so is Paul awaiting the formation of Christ within these believers. His desire for the Galatians, and for all believers, is that the spiritual life will not be a static one, that we will realize that salvation is not the end goal, but that the goal is Christ himself. May Christ be formed in you.
What is the goal set before you? What is it that you live for? What is being formed in you?
I think I would probably have answered those questions differently during the seasons of my life. I remember when I was a college student and there was a preacher telling us that Jesus was going to return in just a few years. I was rather disappointed because I wanted to be married! That was my goal. Oh yes, I was a follower of Christ but my goal was not to have Christ formed in me — there were human goals that I wanted to attain. I was living for finishing college, getting married, starting a life.
The older I get the more I am drawn toward Christ. In some ways I wish I would have been more that way when I was younger. Oh yes, I loved him and I wanted to serve him, but my passion was not for him to be formed in me.
Maybe it’s because that idea never seemed to register with me. In our church tradition we talk a lot about holiness. I really wanted to understand what was meant by that word and yet, in so many ways it seemed to be defined by a list of rules — of dos and don’ts. It seemed to be about conformity to a particular pattern, but not one that I recall being defined as Christlikeness. Nor had I understood this as being completely and desperately in love with Jesus Christ!
At the end of the day this is what Paul is talking about. Not just a perfunctory Christian life, but a life of complete and total abandon in which Christ is being formed in you through love. Paul has experienced this and knows that this is the beautiful ultimate goal of the Christian life and it is his desire that all of his disciples will know this experience. So much so that he is willing to pour out his heart and life for his people to have this intimate knowledge of Christ being formed in them.
May the prayer of this old hymn be the desire of our heart today:
“O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee,
From sin be daily freed.
Make this poor self grow less and less,
Be Thou my life and aim;
Oh, make me daily through Thy grace
More meet to bear Thy name.” (Lavateb, Eng. trans. Smith, 1869)
What is being formed in you? Even as a follower of Jesus Christ you may be allowing the things of this world to shape you. I join with the Apostle Paul in travailing for us spiritually. May Jesus be our life and aim. May there be nothing that distracts us from the goal of Christ set before us and being formed in us.
Lord, be my life and my aim. Amen.