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
While we cannot transform ourselves into the image of Christ, we can create the conditions in which spiritual transformation takes place. This is where spiritual practices come in. Spiritual practices are not ways to make brownie points with God or to prove our spiritual superiority to others. They are not a self-help program by which we take control of our journey and change ourselves. Rather, spiritual disciplines are concrete activities that we engage in in order to make ourselves available for the work only God can do.
This is what Paul is referring to when he appeals to the Christians in Rome to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) He is saying we can be intentional about creating the conditions for transformation by engaging disciplines that help us surrender ourselves to God –not just in theory but in reality. As Richard Foster describes it, “[Spiritual] disciplines are the main way we offer our bodies up to God as a living sacrifice. We are doing what we can do with our bodies, our minds, our hearts. God then take this simple offering of ourselves and does with it what we cannot do, producing within us deeply ingrained habits of love and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Renovare Perspective, April 1999)