One subject? For 31 days? One of the things I love about blogging is that I can write about whatever I like. . . decorating, parenting, cooking, faith--you name it, and I've probably written something about it. Except fashion. I'm not very fashionable.
This challenge, though, is for bloggers to pick one topic about which they're particularly passionate and to write about it for 31 days straight. And I've decided to do it.
Beginning today, I invite you to join me for 31 Days of Spiritual Formation.
I think a good place to begin is by defining terms. "Spiritual formation" has become a hot topic in the past few years. More and more churches now have a minister of spiritual formation. And yet I've found that lots of people really don't have any idea what spiritual formation actually is. The idea of formation is easy enough to understand--we think every day about formation or development of those things that are important to us. But spiritual formation? What does that mean? How can we begin to understand that?
The answer, I believe, is to understand that humans are spiritual beings. One of the best and most trustworthy teachers in the field of Christian spiritual formation is Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy and other books. Dallas likes to say that every human is "an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God's great universe." We have a physical aspect, for sure--we all have bodies, and our bodies are important. But it's our spirits that will live forever.
We all undergo spiritual formation. Everyone's spirit gets formed, for good or for ill. Even if we aren't aware of it, our spirits are being formed. We develop into people of some kind of character--again, good or ill.
Christian spiritual formation is concerned with our spirits being formed in the right way--that is, the way of Jesus. In fact, it's probably better to think of Christian spiritual formation as TRANSformation--the transformation a person's spirit, which is that part of a person out of which actions flow.
I like the way II Corinthians 3:18 speaks of this process:
"And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit."
My friend Jim Smith has written the best definition of spiritual formation I've heard so far:
"Christian spiritual formation is the process of being transformed into the image of Christ, through a relationship of intimacy with God, by the power of the Spirit, in order to live a good and beautiful life of faith, hope, love, joy, and peace--a life that will be a blessing to oneself and to others and will glorify God now and for all eternity" (James Bryan Smith).
A life that will be a blessing to people and will glorify God? Oh yes, I'd like to know more about that. So that's what we'll be talking about here for the month of October. I hope you'll join me as we explore this and learn together.
For a listing of all "31 Days of Spiritual Formation" posts, click here.
**Why me? You may be wondering why I'm writing about spiritual formation. Why have I chosen this as my passion on which to focus for 31 Days? I'm certainly not an expert, but I am passionate about this topic. I'm on the Ministry Team and the Board of Renovare', a ministry founded by Richard J. Foster and devoted to Christian spiritual formation. Renovare's focus is best summed up in this vision statement: "We imagine a world in which people's lives flourish as they increasingly become like Jesus, because Christian spiritual formation is clearly understood and widely practiced."**