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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inside-Outside-Right Side Up

I'm reading "The Great Omission" (page 80) where Dallas Willard describes spiritual formation as-
the process through which those who love and trust Jesus Christ effectively take on his character. When this process is what it should be, they increasingly live their lives as he would if he were in their place. Their outward conformity to his example and his instructions rises toward fullness as their inward sources of action take on the same character as his. They come more and more to share his vision, love, hope, feelings, and habits.
I hope you'll reflect on this paragraph phrase by phrase. What is success for a pastor or a church? I'd say it is when this process is taking place in more and more members of the congregation. Period. If you have this you can toss out all other measures of "success". If you don't have this, nothing else counts.

The same is true for our personal lives. First you internalize Jesus' character and person, his "vision, love, hope, feelings" become your own. Then your good tree bears good fruit as you externalize your inner realities into outward actions.

This, not the hokie-pokie, is what it's all about.


doug said...

If that is what it is all about i have to ask myself how commited i am to it. I read a quote from annie dillard(rhymes with dallas willard).
And once, says Ernest Thompson Seton--once, a man shot an eagle out of the sky. He examined the eagle and found the dry skull of a weasel fixed by the jaws to his throat. The supposition is that the eagle had pounced on the weasel and the weasel swiveled and bit as instinct taught him, tooth to neck, and nearly won. I would like to have seen that eagle from the air a few weeks or months before he was shot: was the whole weasel still attached to his feathered throat, a fur pendant? Or did the eagle eat what he could reach, gutting the living weasel with his talons before his breast, bending his beak, cleaning the beautiful airborne bones?
I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you're going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.
Christ in you is what it is all about. challenges me to seek him more.

Dennis said...

Thank you for the reference to Annie Dillard and her essay "Living Like Weasels". A wonderful piece.