SPIRITUAL FORMATION is not an instantaneous process, although there may well be instantaneous experiences at certain points along the journey. Spiritual formation is a lifelong process of growth into the image of Christ. This gradual aspect of spiritual formation moves against the grain of our instant gratification culture. We have been conditioned to expect almost immediate returns on our investments of time, energy, or resources. For this reason, you may find it difficult at points to accept the necessity of undergoing a lengthy period of spiritual discipline before experiencing any substantive change in your life. …
Spiritual formation is not an option. Spiritual formation is not a discipline just for “dedicated disciples.” It is not a pursuit only for the pious. Spiritual formation is not an activity for the committed alone. …
Every event of life is an experience of spiritual formation. Every action taken, every response made, every dynamic of relationship, every thought held, every emotion allowed: these are the miniscule areneas where, bit by bit, infinitesimal piece by infinitesimal piece, we are shaped into some kind of being.
We are being shaped either toward the wholeness of the image of Christ or toward a horribly destructive caricature of that image. This is why Paul urges Christians, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17, NRSV, italics added). The Christians spiritual journey is a life lived in, through, and for God.
- M. Robert Mulholland Jr.
Shaped by the Word
From pages 25-26 of Shaped by the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation, revised edition, by M. Robert Mulholland Jr. Copyright © 2000 by M. Robert Mulholland Jr. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
How does the definition above challenge your understanding of spiritual formation? Share your thoughts.
84:2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 82:2, NRSV
This Week: pray for returning students and teachers. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.
Did You Know?
Heart Whispers offers accessible insights from Benedictine spirituality to help us explore the need for faithful living in today’s often stress-filled world.
This week we remember John the Baptist (August 29).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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