At one time or another, most of us, if not all of us, have felt that “ache” that all is not as it should be. That WE are not all that we were created to be. The desire to be who we were created to be is there, but we’ve fallen short, gotten distracted, become disappointed and thus paralyzed in our pursuit of God—to love God more and love others above ourselves. Sure, the ache is there. But what can really be done about it?
John Ortberg addresses the assignment of spiritual priorities and the action of spiritual disciplines in The Life You’ve Always Wanted. Ortberg calls out our tendency to think of our spiritual lives as an extension of ourselves like our financial lives or vocational lives. Unlike finances or vocations, our spirituality is a part of our inner being. “The truth is, that the term spiritual life is simply a way of referring to one’s life—every moment and facet of it—from God’s perspective,” (p. 17). And the transformation, or morphing, of one’s life is the goal.
Ortberg warns of the dangers of “pseudo-transformation,” wherein, if we are not feeling like we are becoming more loving and gracious, we will attempt to follow rules and keep boundaries so as to appear transformed. “Tragically, it is possible to think we are becoming more spiritual when in fact we are only becoming more smug and judgmental,” (p. 38). Ortberg outlines five questions, founded from Matthew, to determine the warning signs of pseudo-transformation (p. 39-44). How would you answer these questions?
1) Am I spiritually “inauthentic”?
2) Am I becoming judgmental or exclusive or proud?
3) Am I becoming more approachable, or less?
4) Am I growing weary of pursuing spiritual growth?
5) Am I measuring my spiritual life in superficial ways?
John Ortberg is passionate about “spiritual formation,” which is how people become more like Jesus. His teaching brings Scripture alive and invariably includes practical applications and warm humor. John’s education includes a Master of Divinity degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Seminary. The former senior pastor of Horizons Community Church in Southern California, John also served as teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area. John is the author of “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat,” “Faith and Doubt,” “It All Goes Back in the Box,” and many other books. He contributes to various publications, and teaches around the world about spiritual formation.