- 01. We take the long view...always.
- 02. We refuse to think of spiritual formation in terms of various practices...ever.
- 03. We engage in spiritual formation for the sake of the Church universal...always.
- 04. We do not center on curriculum-based solutions...ever.
- 05. We draw wisdom and insight from the ancient sources...always.
- 06. We do not aim at outward action...ever.
- 07. We are keenly aware that true inward transformation will incline our hearts toward suffering humanity...always.
Dear readers of Conversations,
In two recent Renovaré publicationsI am referring to the September 2006 Perspective and my November 2006 Heart-to-Heart newsletter. I shared some of my hopes and dreams for the modern spiritual formation movement. At times I was quite candid—you might even say blunt. But always I was writing from my heart about a vision for the future that I believe God will bring to pass as we embrace more and more the mystery of Christ within.
Knowing the purpose of Conversations and the theme of this particular issue, I asked the editors if they would like to include these thoughts with the other articles. They graciously said yes. Below, then, are my dream and my hope.
I dream of a day when spiritual formation has so saturated all who follow hard after Jesus that they become known to all as experts in how to live well:
- How to love one’s spouse well.
- How to raise children well.
- How to study well.
- How to face adversity well.
- How to run businesses and financial institutions well.
- How to form community life well.
- How to reach out to those on the margins well.
- How to die well.
I am thinking of ordinary folk who are not known for particular customs or manner of dress or rituals, but for a particular kind of life: a life that works … and works well. They are of all races and classes and kinds. They are in the churches, and they are outside of the churches, but they all are the Church, the people of God. Some self-identify as followers of Jesus; others, because of cultural or racial or family barriers, do not come out so publicly, but they follow hard after Jesus, nonetheless.
Some are followers of “the Way” without fully knowing it, for the Light of Jesus does indeed shine into the darkness and does indeed enlighten every person coming into the world (John 1:5–9). This is the universal, saving Light of Jesus Christ, and those who turn and walk in the Light are given more Light and finally come to see it is the Jesus Way, the Jesus Truth, and the Jesus Life in which they are living.
While denominational structures continue, their distinctions begin to blur and fade as the issue of living well takes center stage. Indeed, the various denominations themselves begin sharing their great treasures into life in such a way that other groups take on these vital convictions as their own.
- From the Methodists we learn profound lessons about “social holiness.”
- From the Baptists we learn more fully about the stabilizing power of “soul competency.”
- From the Quakers we begin stepping into simplicity of life.”
- From the Roman Catholics we grow in our appreciation of a consistent “culture of life.”
- From Pentecostals we experience the empowering of the Holy Spirit for all of life’s vicissitudes.
- From the Mennonites we grow in our ability to be loving witnesses for peace in a war-torn world.
- From the Reformed we broaden in our understanding of our “cultural mandate” to work for the transformation of society.
- And more.