In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.2                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

Needing a book to rejuvenate your heart and enlarge your vision for the Kingdom? Pick up Catherine Hamlin's The Hospital By the River: A Story of Hope . The book tells the moving story of extraordinary medical service offered in the name of Christ to outcast women.

Hope Happenings

Today (January 26), Hope is hosting a special conference on "Managing Church Business in the 21st Century." We expect nearly 70 Executive Pastors and others will attend this special event. If you're interested in other opportunities we host, bookmark our web-site (www.hiu.edu ).  

 

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

 

"A community that believes but does not love or marginalizes love, regardless of its belief system or doctrinal orthodoxy ... soon, very soon, becomes a 'synagogue of Satan' (Rev. 3:9)." (Eugene Peterson)


Not About Me

"Spiritual formation" has become one of the most over-used (and misunderstood) buzz-words of our day. The idea fascinates and resonates with us for many reasons.

We want to draw closer to God. We'd like some way to deal with the baggage that we usually keep tucked out of sight. Spiritual formation seems to offer a solution to our personal sense of emptiness or aimlessness. Besides, we admire "spiritual people." Why not join their ranks, if possible?

Hopefully, the process won't be too demanding and the language won't be too difficult to pick up. So, we launch ourselves with gusto into various disciplines - a little silence, a little solitude, occasional fasting, and periodic prayer. We read, meditate, and study.

But for many of us, the enthusiasm wanes and our hopes to be "spiritually formed" turns to disappointment. We find ourselves dry, unimpressed, and largely unchanged. Spiritual formation is not the panacea that we had thought. Its promise feels hollow.

Our failure to experience the riches of spiritual formation may have more to do with our motives and expectations than the process itself.

When we approach spiritual formation as a means to garner admiration from the crowd, or a subtle way to get close enough to God that we can manipulate Him (ever so gently), we fall short every time.

Biblically - and no, the phrase "spiritual formation" is not a biblical phrase - the idea of being shaped by the Spirit of God has one end in mind, that we might love more fully. Ultimately, spiritual formation is the perfecting of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22-23) which places love at the top of the list. The Apostle John drew the same conclusion (1 Jn 4.7-8).

The subtle heresy of our day may be that the truly "spiritual person" is the disciplined person who sacrifices everyone and everything to pursue God. Mystical union with God, however, is no end in itself. Its purpose is to make us profoundly deeper lovers - of God and each other. Remember the two greatest commandments (Matt 22.36-39)? The one who knows God most deeply, also loves others most deeply.

Spiritual formation, then, is not about me - but about us. Enough of the narcissistic pursuit of spirituality, filled with self-admiration and self-fulfillment. Only as our spirituality embraces God and others more fully than ever, will the dryness be rejuvenated and the disillusionment turn to deep joy.

In HOPE -

David

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/