Last Sunday we began a new series titled “Sacred Rhythms,” inspired by Ruth Haley Barton’s book of the same title and my own personal experience with the spiritual formation program at the Transforming Center. This week we will share brief reflections from Ruth and the Transforming Center on the biblical and theological foundations of spiritual transformation. These reflections are available at www.transformingcenter.org. For a deeper look into this topic, I recommend the Transforming Center’s short study guide titled, “Spiritual Transformation: A Biblical and Theological Perspective.” I hope you enjoy these reflections! – Alex
Both the formation of the embryo in its mother’s womb and the transformation of a caterpillar in the cocoon are natural phenomena in the physical world but there is also something about it that is a God-thing. These metaphors place the process of spiritual transformation squarely in the category we call mystery—something outside the range of normal human activity and understanding that can only be understood through divine revelation and brought about by divine activity.
In fact, everything we affirm as central to our Christian faith is somewhere in Scripture referred to as a mystery. The mystery of God (I Corinthians 2:1)…We are servants and stewards of God’s mysteries (I Corinthians 4:1)…The mystery of God’s will (Ephesians 1:9), the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4)…the mystery of the Gospel (Ephesians 6:19), the mystery of marriage which is applied to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:31, 32)…the mystery of Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)…God’s mystery which is Christ himself (Colossians 2:2)…the mystery of the faith (I Timothy 3:9)… just to name a few.
If we are not comfortable with mystery, we are not comfortable with the very gospel we preach. The journey of transformation requires some measure of willingness to relinquish control and give ourselves over to a process we cannot fully understand nor can we predict the outcome. We know we will be more like Christ but we cannot predict exactly what the person of Christ lived in and through us will look like or where it will take us.