Friday, February 20, 2009

What is Spiritual Formation?

One of my deepest passions is spiritual formation. Spiritual formation is a whole world of study in Christian spirituality and experiential learning founded on a fundamental assumption: We are on a journey of being changed through the joyful gifts of the spiritual disciplines. This spirituality is taught to us by generations of those who have gone before us. My love for spiritual formation springs from my longing to be more whole in Christ and more rooted in God.

My scholarly friend Bob Mulholland defined spiritual formation as “the process of being conformed into the image of Christ for the sake of others.” His definition illuminates four aspects of spiritual formation:

1) “The process …” Spiritual formation is a lifelong journey, not an accomplishment or achievement earned. It is not limited to Bible study and worship. Responding to the Holy Spirit’s nudging, Christians are called to an intentional journey of infinite discovery.

2) “… of being conformed …” The spiritual disciplines are means of grace God gives us in order to continually transform us. Christianity is not just about what we believe or what we do. It is about allowing God to craft us into people of the fruit of the Spirit.

3) “… into the image of Christ …” The journey leads toward the self-giving love, the compassion and passion, and the character of Christ Jesus our Lord. We are called not only to draw close to Christ but to become more and more like Christ.

4) “… for the sake of others.” The point of spiritual formation is to become more of a servant who joyfully takes up the towel for others.

Lent begins in a few days. Perhaps during the season of Lent your heart might become inflamed with a passion for drawing closer to God and being made whole in Christ. I invite you to the world of spiritual formation.

To find out more, check out this website: