We have been working through and drilling down on the process of transformation (becoming more like Christ) and what that looks like in our lives. I wrote in my last post about looking at this through the spiritual tensions of solitude and community. In this post let’s take a look at more specifically in what areas of our life we may need to look into to see where we are at and where we might need to grow (along with that remembering the resistance we will likely have to confront in those different areas)….
Let’s start here with the following quote…
“The journey inward calls for the disciplines of solitude, silence, prayer, meditation, contemplation, and attentiveness to the movement of our heart. The journey outward in community and mission calls for the disciplines of care, compassion, witness, outreach, healing, accountability, and attentiveness to the movement of other people’s hearts. These two journeys belong together to strengthen each other and should never be separated.”
Henri Nouwen (from Spiritual Formation p.123)
So, as you were reading this Nouwen quote did you get some initial reactions as to where in these more specific areas related to the inward and outward journey you are at, or where you may need to go up against the resistance? Remembering with going up against the resistance it isn’t a muscling up and trying harder… but rather it is a gaining on that ever increasing glory that Paul speaks of in that 2 Corinthians 3:17&18 passage. That gaining doesn’t make us a prisoner of the should do’s… but rather frees us up from that prison of staying put and not experiencing that ever increasing glory!!
We need to keep what is involved in these two journeys before us. We need to realize that it is truly a journey of taking one step at a time forward in both of these journeys that Nouwen writes about. In that journey forward we can certainly experience slipping back or making wrong turns… thus keeping what is involved in these journeys before us to realize where slippage has maybe occurred so we can gain those steps back.
The other thing about journeying in respects to this is the importance of a community (pilgrims together). Note that one of the outward journeying aspects is that of accountability… a word not necessarily always received well. But it is the working and journeying together and being accountable to one another that can help check each other on how that journey is going. This again then speaks towards the need for staying on both the inward and outward journey.
These two areas of our journey now spelled out also suggest something else of great importance in the journey. As Robert Coleman says in his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism… “the wandering masses of the world must have a mentor who will stand among them and say “Follow me, I know the way.” In other words following someone who has Christ already as their leader is paramount to the process!! We will look at that more as we go forward on this journeying together as pilgrims!!
This is in accordance with Paul’s appeal to the followers in I Corinthians 4: 15b – 16
for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.