When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, p. 6.
Living out our identity in Christ, oddly enough, involves small acts of dying, of losing our life in order to find it (Luke 9:24)… We have to practice laying aside our unflappable pursuit of our own satisfaction, entertainment, pleasure, or routine in order to pursue God and ask him to reorder our priorities and passions. We have to cultivate dying to the overpowering appetites that our culture hyperstimulates daily in order to become increasingly stimulated by God’s grace and imagination and to desire that what is on God’s heart be on ours.
Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship, p. 170-171.
We are living in this short time, a time, indeed, full of sadness and sorrow. To live this short time in the spirit of Jesus Christ, means to reach out from the midst of our pains and to let them be turned into joy by the love of him who came within our reach… Once God has touched us in the midst of our struggles and has created in us the burning desire to be forever united with him, we will find the courage and the confidence to prepare his way and to invite all who share our life to wait with us during this short time for the day of complete joy.
Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, p. 116.
The Christian life is not about us; it is about God. Christian spirituality is not a life-project for becoming a better person, is is not about developing a so-called “deeper life.” We are in on it, to be sure. But we are not the subject. Nor are we the action. We get included by means of a few prepositions: God with us (Matt. 1:23), Christ in me (Gal. 2:20), God for us (Rom. 8:31). With… in… for…: powerful, connecting, relation-forming words, but none of them making us either subject or predicate. We are the tag-end of a prepositional phrase.
Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, p. 335.
In this volume of Resonance, we explore the wonder of the spiritual life. “Spiritual formation” is a term often associated with the cultivation of inner spiritual disciplines. There is a deep tradition within Christian history and practice that focuses on this inner formation as a witness to the transformative work of God in the life of the Christian. However, “spiritual formation” also speaks to the wider and more holistic notion of Christian discipleship. The inner personal disciplines are cultivated not in isolation, but through the church-community, and ultimately to train one’s heart to the distinct calling of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual formation, then, is one way of talking about whole-life formation – formation that is for the work and glory of God.