Friday, December 03, 2004

Perpetual Clay

Is there anything in life that sits outside the realm of spiritual formation? Sure, reading my Bible or praying are included, spiritual expereicnes are a part as well. Church meetings? Sure, when my head and heart are in it. Service to the poor? Yeah. Probably should do some more of that.

But what about when I am driving? Oh yeah, K-LOVE...Chrisitan radio. Whew. Still got some spiritual formation there. But what about if I am listening to Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh or National Public Radio? What about when I am going to the bathroom, shopping, reading a novel, wathcing TV? How can spiritual formation be happening then if I am not intentionally and overtly doing something Christian?

Here is an axiom of spiritual formation: You cannot avoid spiritual formation. So much is said about spiritual formation from the side of positive spiritual formation that negative spiritual formation gets lost in the shuffle. Every experience is an exercise in spiritual formation. I am influenced by everything I experience.

Now, the same stimulus may be a different experience for different people. For example, when my wife and I watched the movie, "Runaway Bride," she was watching a romantic comedy. I was watching a story which reveals the systemic nature of the interactional dynamics of a family and community on an individual which guide her choices and the second order change which was required for her to break free from the system. (And it was a cute movie). We had exact same stimulus, but very different experiences.

So, spiritual formation is not merely doing something, it is an interpretation of what is being done, witnessed, or experienced. Some people read the bible to gain knowledge while others read it to see themselves, while others read it to pass the test...and on and on and on. Yes, it is what you do or experience, but it is also how you experience it.

Some people have never seen a trace of God anywhere while others cannot go anywhere without finding him there. Both people are being spiritually formed. The question is: In direction are they spiritually formed? Toward God or away from God?

So when one person sees "The Matrix" as a brilliant allegory to the spiritual walk, it means something altogether different than the person who watches because he thinks Trinity is a hottie decked out in leather.

Our spiritual formation is in perpetual motion and we cannot avoid it. We cannot avoid being clay either. We are shapable, moldable, and influencible (I think I made that last one up, but you get my point).

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