Getting Packed: The Process | 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Routines and Habits
I am a creature of habit. I have certain things that are done a certain way at certain times every day. For instance, when I get up in the morning, I fill the kettle with water, make sure the coffee press is cleaned out, and dump a scoop of coffee in the press. Nothing happens in our house before coffee. Nothing. Coffee is first in the process or everything suffers.
Then I wake up Donovan because he goes to school earlier than Avery and get him started. I then go into the bedroom and turn on the television and start a news program of some kind to wake Heather up. By then, the kettle is whistling so I make the coffee and Heather and I sit and drink coffee for a few minutes before she starts getting ready to leave for work. Then, I make sure Donovan has lunch and books ready and start herding him to the door. I wake Avery up and then take Donovan to school.
I come back to house and make sure I have everything ready to take to the office. I check on Avery and make sure she actually woke up and got ready for school – which is normally but not quite always the case. Once she is ready for school and the clock rolls around to about 7:45 am, I take Avery to school and then go into the office, usually by a few minutes after eight.
But the process doesn’t end there. When I get to the church, I park under the awning at the family life center, out of the weather, and then walk to the office. I unlock the office and turn on all three lamps (I hate overhead lighting), and then the coffee maker for hot water, and then the computer. I make a cup of tea or coffee, read and answer my email, and if it is Monday or Tuesday, I work on Sunday school, if it is Thursday, I work on the sermon, and the only break in this routine is Wednesday, when I go to Chick-Fil-A for Breakfast with the Pastor. In the late morning and afternoons, I visit people or make phone calls to people to check on them.
For those who didn’t notice, I am a terribly predictable, routine person. Throw a monkey wrench into that and I will adjust to it, but I will feel off balance until the next day when I can start the routine again and go through it properly.
Creatures of Routine
As Christians, we are creatures of routine: we read the things that reinforce what we already think; we congregate with those we already know; we go about addressing church related things the way we always have. Some of this is simply because we are Methodists; there’s a method so we follow it as part of our heritage. But some of it, I think, is because we have found a routine that suits us and is comfortable.
This morning, I want to invite you out of the routine, out of the same old, same old and into a soul journey. I want us to get out on The Road.
Whether you realize it or not, you are on a spiritual journey. Some of us are racing down the road at breakneck speed and missing all sorts of things on the way. Some of us have decided that we have found a nice spot and we stopped in the road, grumbling at those who are trying to walk past us and ruining our nice spot. Some of us wander on and off the path, never staying still but never really getting anywhere. Some, walk steadily onward, growing, learning, teaching and helping others on road with them. The truth is, we all have had and continue to have moments where we do all of these. Part of the journey is having to deal with all of this and more.
I think there is a way, however, to find some consistency in our journey, a sort of road map to spiritual formation. In his book, Invitation to a Journey, Robert Mullholland writes, “Spiritual formation is (1) a process (2) of being formed (3) in the image of Christ (4) for the sake of others.” Over the next several weeks, we are going to unpack this idea starting this week with the process.
The Process of Formation
The idea of process seems to have been a difficult one for the church at Corinth. Of course, lots of things were difficult for them and Paul seemed to have his hands full. In the passage we read this morning, Paul saw the Corinthians as ‘spiritual infants’ who were still being bottle fed instead of eating off the table. He goes on to talk about how they act like children, jealous of one another, quarreling, behaving out of their brokenness. They separated themselves into camps around certain leaders. Some said they were followers of Paul, others of Apollo.
This strikes me as a people in need of beginning the process. The spiritual idea of process is one that seems obvious to us and yet foreign at the same time. We have a feeling that there is a process but struggle to figure out what it is. We look for techniques, methods, programs to guide us but then walk away from them when they really begin to push at the things we don’t want to give up or give in to.
A process is simply the set of steps that we take to get from one point to the next. Remember the morning routine I talked about earlier? The routine is my process, my step by step way of going from being awake to being at work. We all have processes that we engage in every day, but they are so common to us, so rote, that we rarely even notice them.
As Paul alludes to, we are all in a growing process both physically and spiritually. We all started out as physical infants and we all start as spiritual infants too. There is a growth process to both that we enter whether we choose to or not. We are at our core spiritual beings and our being will seek out the spiritual life one way or another. C.S. Lewis says it this way, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you. The part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before.”
We are going to enter the process no matter what, the question is how? Do we view our spirituality as possession to be had, controlled by our own hand? Do we view it as a journey that unfolds as the response to a gracious invitation from the one who Created us? Paul ends our passage today saying, “…you are God’s field. You are God’s building.” The answer, I believe, is that we are certainly on a journey, one that is a process – a step by step movement – that is happening both with and to us as we walk with God.
Our first step in the process is engagement. For us to truly grow as part of the process, we must be willing to follow where God leads, listening to the Holy Spirit, learning to use the tools of spiritual discipline and the practices of spiritual formation to move along on the journey. We must be willing to grow up, growing into maturity in the faith. Paul writes later to the church at Corinth, “Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” So now I want to encourage you to grow, begin the process – the step to begin the journey of being formed into the image of Jesus and begin maturing into Christ-likeness.
Mullholland, M. R. (2016). Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. Downers Grove, Il: IVP Books.
 (Mullholland, 2016, p. 19)
 (Mullholland, 2016, p. 23)
 (Mullholland, 2016, p. 28)
 2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT