I have come to the end of a 52-week meditation in the book by Joshua Choonmin Kang, Deep-Rooted in Christ. I first read this book back in the summer of 2008 and decided at that time it would be a great book to work through again in a devotional and contemplative way. I was right. It has been great. If you are a follower of the icrucified blog, you will know or remember that most of 2009 has been “peppered” with quotes and discussion fueled by pastor Kang. I’m looking forward to the next work of his that will be translated into English and am hopeful that it will be a piece that can be useful in the same sense of “Deep-rooted.”
Because there are so many mentions of the book over the past year, I don’t want to give another review or synopsis of the book. However, if you are unfamiliar with it, let me just say that it is a primer and much more on the disciplines of spiritual formation. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
The final meditation speaks directly to the way of transformation (meaning being transformed into the image of Christ – this is what spiritual formation is all about; becoming like Jesus). Pastor Kang writes the following instructions:
Attaining spiritual maturity isn’t easy. Relentless training is needed, much like the training Paul took on when he became obedient to God. Such training requires sacrifice: you must despise sin, be passionate for holiness and balance your work with mature living. Not only that; spiritual maturity shouldn’t be the goal in itself. Instead, our goal should be to witness truly to Jesus in our lives. When all is said and done our spiritual maturity must be for the sake of ministry.
True meaning and purpose are lost when a person focuses entirely on gaining spiritual maturity. But beware. Mature spirituality is no substitute for ministry. And heads up! If one boasts about having achieved spiritual maturity, then that person has to start all over again. That’s not what spirituality is all about. Gaining spiritual maturity is hard; losing it is easy (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Pastor Kang shares some final wisdom in the following tips he calls the prescription for maintaining exceptional spirituality and becoming like Jesus:
- Walk the straight path (Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 23:19) entering through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14) the way of Jesus…the road of the cross.
- Always abide in Jesus. We must always be connected to Jesus in every way; this is our spiritual goal (John 15:5; Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 12:2)
- Live a spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 3:18)
- To follow Jesus will require us to deny ourselves daily; we cannot follow Jesus without first submitting to this prerequisite (Luke 9:23; 1 Corinthians 15:31)
- We must discipline ourselves to always be alert to the foil of the adversary and staying prepared (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-17)
- Submission to God and following the way of Jesus compels us to submit to and serve others; the greatest commandment was summarized by Jesus, “Love God and Love others.” (Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13) Love is everything.
- Ministry and mature spirituality requires the Word of God and understanding the Word only comes through a close relationship with Jesus and imitation of Him
I cannot sing the praises of this little book loudly enough; it has been a real joy to journey through it this past year, I have been challenged, blessed, corrected, and inspired. Thank you, Pastor Kang for sharing your wisdom and your love for our Lord; I am blessed.