However, this truth about obedience seems a secret very well kept today. And the correlation between faith in Christ and the obedience/ abundance of life in Christ has now become, apparently, something of a mystery. Yes, it is a relationship that has functioned well in many periods of Christian history. The cultural and literary record is there for all to see. And there still are those today for whom faith in Christ progressively modulates into both obedience and abundance. I meet such people. But, not very many. The usual Christian experience does not progress in that way. And it is mainly because individuals are rarely offered any effective guidance into the inner substance of the path laid down by Jesus in his teachings and example.
Where Are the Training Programs?
We have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot become those who “hear and do” without specific training for it. The training may be to some extent self-administered, but more than that will always be needed. It is something that must be made available to us by those already farther along the path.
That clearly was the understanding of Jesus for his people. Training in Christlikeness is a responsibility they have for those who enter their number.
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 313 (1998).
Time for CONVERSATION. Honesty that leads to deep COMMUNION. Willingness to follow our deepest desires to the experience of UNION for developing a relationship with God.
Spiritual disciplines—such as silence, solitude, prayer, and Scripture reading—are methodologies for spending time with God and entering into conversation with him. Spiritual disciplines—such as confession, simplicity, fasting, and service—can lead to deeper levels of honesty before God and communion with him. And Spiritual disciplines—such as submission, worship and celebration—may foster our embrace of willingness and the experience of union with God.
But we should all be very careful. Falling head-over-heels in love with God can make the world look upside down.
Gary W. Moon, “Misplaced Passions,” Conversations, 1.1, Spring 2003, p. 50
The Daring Great Goal of the Christian Life- Colossians 1: 28, 29
Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm. They urge us to be the answer to a hollow world.
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, nor 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. On the ledge there is a path, the Disciplines of the spiritual life. This path leads to the inner transformation and healing for which we seek. We must never veer off to the right or the left, but stay on the path. The path is fraught with severe difficulties, but also with incredible joys. As we travel on this path, the blessing of God will come upon us and reconstruct us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only puts us in the place where the change can occur. This is the way of disciplined grace.
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, p. 1, 5, 7, (1978).
My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing—by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself. If we have faith in Christ, we must believe that he knew how to live. We can, through faith and grace, become life Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the activities he himself practiced in order to remain constantly at home in the fellowship of his Father.
Out of such preparation, Jesus was able to lead a public life of service through teaching and healing. He was able to love his closest companions to the end—even though they often disappointed him greatly and seemed incapable of entering into his faith and works. And then he was able to die a death unsurpassed for its intrinsic beauty and historical effect.
And in this truth lies the secret of the easy yoke: the secret involves living as he lived in the entirety of his life—adopting his overall life-style. Following “in his steps” cannot be equated with behaving as he did when he was “on the spot.” To live as Christ lived is to live as he did all his life.
Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. IX, 5 (1988).
When spirituality is viewed as a journey, however, the way to spiritual wholeness is seen to lie in an increasingly faithful response to the One whose purpose shapes our path, whose grace redeems our detours, whose power liberates us from crippling bondages of the prior journey and whose transforming presence meets us at each turn in the road. In other words, holistic spirituality is a pilgrimage of deepening responsiveness to God's control of our life and being.
Let me briefly sketch for you where we will be going together in this book. In the first section, "The Road Map: The Nature of Spiritual Formation," I want to share with you what may appear to be a rather simplistic definition: Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.
M. Robert Mulholland Jr., Invitation To A Journey, p. 12 (1993).
Today a mighty river of the Spirit is bursting forth from the hearts of women and men, boys and girls. It is a deep river of divine intimacy, a powerful river of holy living, a dancing river of jubilation in the Spirit, and abroad river of unconditional love for all peoples. As Jesus says, "Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
The astonishing new reality in this mighty flow of the Spirit is how sovereignly God is bringing together streams of life that have been isolated from one another for a very long
As Jesus walked this earth, living and working among all kinds and classes of people, he gave us the divine paradigm for conjugating all the verbs of our living. Too often in our concern to make doctrinal points we rush to expound upon Jesus’ death, and in so doing we neglect Jesus’ life. This is a great loss. Attention to Jesus in his living gives us important clues for our living.
When we carefully consider how Jesus lived while among us in the flesh, we learn how we are to live—truly live—empowered by him who is with us always even to the end of the age. We then begin an intentional imitatio Christi, imitation of Christ, not in some slavish or literal fashion but by catching the spirit and power in which he lived and by learning to walk "in his steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus, alive and among his people today, calls to us exactly as he did those disciples so long ago, saying, “Follow me.” Now, we do not follow Jesus in precisely the same way those early disciples did. We cannot walk the dusty roads of Galilee with him. No, we follow him in the Spirit, but the basic principle and pattern is the same. This is why the study of the Gospel records is such a help to us. In their pages we see how Jesus lived and what he did while he was enfleshed as we are.
The streams are: 1. Prayer and Intimacy. The Prayer filled life. The contemplative stream. 2. Purity of Heart. The Virtuous Life. The Holiness Stream. 3. Life In The Spirit. The Spirit empowered life. The Charismatic Stream. 4. Justice and Shalom. The compassionate Life. The Social Justice Stream. 5. Proclaiming. The Evangel. The Word Centered life. The Evangelical Stream. 6. The Sacramental Life.
Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, p. xv, 3-21, (1998).
From our perspective in writing The Critical Journey, we have chosen to speak of spirituality ultimately as the way in which we live out our response to God. Unless we find this personal, transformational meaning in its fullest sense, the struggle for wholeness will remain unresolved. As Augustine put it in the first paragraph of his Confessions, “God, created us for a relationship with him and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.
Faith with reference to the journey is simply the process by which we let God direct our lives or let God be God. The more we deliberately choose to let God direct our every thought, word, and action, the more profoundly our journey is affected. As we shall note, this journey of faith has various phases or stages. Some find a place along the way where they may stay indefinitely. Some even get stuck at a stage. But we believe that God calls us continually to recognize God's presence in our lives and to respond. And the spiritual or faith journey is first a movement of individual choice toward an acknowledgment of who God is. Further, it is our invitation to God to take control of all aspects of lives. Once consciously entered upon, this reception of God into our lives effects a continual process of growth rather than a point of arrival.
Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich, The Critical Journey, p. 3f (1989).
So the greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as "Christians" will become disciples— students, apprentices, practitioners—of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence. Will they break out of the churches to be his Church—to be, without human force or violence, his mighty force for good on earth, drawing the churches after them toward the eternal purposes of God? And, on its own scale, there is no greater issue facing the individual human being, Christian or not.
Dallas Willard, The Great Omission, p. xv,(2006)