(First published September 9, 2015)
I’m working on a course in spiritual formation these days. I had to decide what I’m doing in the course. I drafted this summary: Providing spiritual, relational, behavioral, emotional, and intellectual tools people can use to help themselves and others become more like Jesus.
It was a freeing definition for me.
The label “spiritual formation” makes us think that everything in the course has to be “spiritual”. Which can mean holy, spooky, intangible, wacky, otherworldly, irrelevant, unquantifiable, individual. Depending on your worldview.
But when I start talking about formation, I think that the research on habit has direct connection to becoming like Jesus. And so there is value in teaching about it. And I think that reflections on community and the ways to foster it are related. And I think that reflections on personality are helpful, because, for example, introverts are going to approach interaction about being like Jesus differently than extroverts.
Because, as you may remember, Jesus identified the greatest commandment as one which talks about Loving the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself.
When I help people understand how sound thinking works, how focus can be improved, how sabbath can rest our expectations, I am helping us learn about loving God and each other in all of those dimensions.
And then I realized that I do that here at 300, too. Or better, that I should.
So sometimes I do talk about tools without quoting a verse. Or I refer in passing to a person, as if they are real, whose biography is known by reading the book of Acts. I use them as an illustration rather than giving you an explanation of who they are and how they fit in the Biblical narrative.
What I’m trying to do is give you tools, spiritual, relational, behavioral, emotional, and intellectual tools people can use to help themselves and others become more like Jesus.