By Brock Bondurant
Hebrews 5:8-9 – 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him
What in the heck does that mean that he “learned obedience” and was “being made perfect”? Jesus is already perfect, right? After reading through Hebrews recently, these verses intrigued me; and encouraged me just the same.
So, if Jesus is perfect, how is he made more perfect? I’m not sure I have the exact answer, but here are some thoughts:
You may have heard the phrase “already, but not yet.” It’s the belief that we live in this in-between time; that Jesus has come, but is coming; the Kingdom of Heaven is here, but yet to come. It can be super complicated, but it’s actually beautiful. Maybe the same thing is happening in this verse. Jesus is perfect, but through his lifestyle, his practices, he is being made (more) perfect. Jesus – God in the form and limitations of man – models spiritual formation for us in himself.
Spiritual formation simply means that we are all becoming someone – the sum of all of our habits. It means that the things we do, do something to us. This is evident all around us. Habits make us who we are. For Christians, spiritual formation is the process of being transformed into Christlikeness.
Last week, we talked about ancient paths and practicing the way of Jesus, which is our intentional participation in spiritual formation by structuring our lives around the habits of Jesus. Think of spiritual disciplines like prayer, Scripture study, and silence & solitude. The goal of practicing the way is to 1) be with Jesus, 2) become like Jesus, and 3) do what he did. If he is able to be formed (learned obedience, being made perfect), perhaps I have hope to do so too.
That means that I don’t have to stay where I’m at.
I used to go through life living unintentionally. I had no regard for how the things I was doing were making me into someone. I professed a love for Jesus but didn’t live in a way that reflected that. I wondered why I was like I was – why the love of Jesus wasn’t transforming me like I had heard it was supposed to. I disliked who I was becoming. Something had to change. And then I found the “ancient paths” – “the good way” through a pastor out in Portland. I discovered how practicing the way of Jesus was transformative. What I do in this body matters because what he did in his body mattered. My habits shape me. By making habits like prayer, forgiveness, and Sabbath regular rhythms in my life, I saw the change I wished to see. I became unhurried, less anxious, and more patient – hopefully more like Jesus.
So why practice the way of Jesus? Jesus was the most loving, patient, kind soul to ever walk in our shoes. I want to become like that. I want to be with him and become like him because I love him. He took me right where I was at – sin and all – giving me grace I couldn’t earn. Then he gave me his Word and his way to follow. He gave me hope that I can be more than I am right now. He offers the same to you. I believe that by taking up these practices we can, with time and infinite grace, grow to become more like Jesus – more like who we were made to be.
And the best part about practicing the way of Jesus is Jesus!