Chapter One: Introducing Spiritual Formation
“We live from our heart”. p. 13
Spiritual Formation (in general) is “the process by which the human spirit or will is given a definite ‘form’ or character.” Everyone’s spirit has been formed by the environment, experiences, etc. around them. The goal is not spiritual formation as we know it, but spiritual transformation. If a soul can be formed, it can be transformed as well.
“The spiritual transformation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself..” p. 22 Often times we focus on the external ways to change ourselves (like reading more, praying more, memorizing scripture, following lots of rules) in hopes of being inwardly transformed. However, this is often what leads to legalism, what we call “externalism.” But it is “that Christ be formed within you” (galatians 4:19) that is what matters. However, obedience is an essential outcome of Christian spiritual formation.
“The ‘outward’ interpretation of spiritual formation, emphasizing specific acts as it does, will merely increase ‘the righteousness of the scribe and Pharisee.’ It will not, as we must, ‘go beyond it’ (Mt 5:20) to achieve genuine transformation of who I am through and through- Christ’s man or woman, living richly in his kingdom.” p. 23
Willard says that this book, he hopes, will be useful for those seeking first the kingdom of God and His rightousness, AND for the leaders of groups who are taking seriously the commission to train people to do all the things that Christ taught. I hope that it does both. I think it’ll be good to read this and learn about spiritual transformation and not get caught up in spiritual disciplines and the sort. But focus more on the heart.