Spiritual Formation and the Image of God
This quote comes from the newest book on my shelf…
“Christian formation involves awaking from the dream that we are God and remembering our true identity, our ‘beloved-of-God-in-Christ” identity, and then saying yes to the pain associated with the mortification of our false self. Dethroning the false self is a pillar of spiritual direction – and a primary cause for the busyness and anxious swimming that distracts us from enjoying the water…”
Gary Moon and David Benner in the book Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls
I’ve spoken with enough Christians about the image of their “selves” to learn that this thought that the authors share here is far too often overlooked. I’ve a believer in the effects of the fall and sin. But I also think that in emphasizing this sin, sometimes we miss the fact that we are beautifully created in the image of God. Our identity is not merely that we are sinners saved by grace. But more so, our identity is wrapped up first in being people who are images of a perfect God. At the core of us is this image. Granted, this core is destroyed, cracked and broken by sin. Thankfully we have good news in the believe that it is Jesus who is making all things, including us, new.
One page 19 the authors write,
“Perhaps it should not be surprising to hear Christians described as “forgiven sinners” instead of beloved children of God on a transformational journey that will lead to restoration of the image Dei and spiritual union.”
Intentionally entering into the process of the re-formation of this image is a critical part of the Christian life. I think far too many of us are content with living a rather broken existence.
Of course, this “process” is the big question for churches and communities of faith. How do we help each other enter into this?
It’s become clear (to me at least) that a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t fly. We just can’t have 6 classes on discipleship and expect that people will come out the other side all fixed. This is especially true considering we all come in with different experiences, sins and stories that generalized dispensing of information simply cannot address.
At the same time, we’ve learned that leaving spiritual formation to a totally organic process doesn’t go too far either. At The Well we’re in search of (and have some ideas on) a hybrid of the two. I think what churches need is a way to intentionally invite people into a life of Spiritual Formation while at the same time not having a one-size-fits-all approach.