"Spiritual formation is
the process of being with Christ ... in order to
become like Christ ... and consequently live for
Christ." -- Wil Hernandez, Henri Nouwen:
A Spirituality of Imperfection
In 1996 Christian Schwarz wrote
Natural Church Development and identified eight key
qualities of healthy churches. On that list, he
included passionate spirituality -- a
vital quality for our personal lives, too.
We all share the desire
for a deeper and richer spiritual experience and
passionate spirituality sounds like a missing
ingredient for many of us. However, the
phrase helps and confuses us at the same
Both words --
passionate and spirituality
-- invite a range
of definitions and, depending on
how we construe the words, might also apply to
Islamic extremists and Baha'i adherents.
How shall we define the terms
from a Christian perspective? Is it more than just contagious enthusiasm for
The Old English roots for the
help us. Remember Mel Gibson's
blockbuster movie The Passion of the
Christ? The term passion refers to suffering.
We are passionate when we are
willing to suffer.
Then, Wil Hernandez defines
Christian spirituality as "the process of being with Christ
... in order to become like Christ ...
and consequently live for
Hernandez suggests a
specific order. First, with Christ. When we come to
Him (John 6:35), trust in Him (John 7:38),
and abide in His Presence (John 15:5) we become
like Him. And the more like Him that we
become, the better we can live for Him
in the world.
In typical fashion, we want
to reverse the order. In our activist
culture we prefer to live for Christ immediately. We get
busy and later (perhaps) deal with becoming more like Him.
Only a few followers seem to draw their inspiration and direction
from time with Him. Little wonder then, that
we strain so hard and frequently feel more
exhausted than exhilarated in our Christian
The Apostle Paul modeled passionate spirituality. Listen
carefully to what he wrote. "I count all things
to be loss in view of the surpassing value of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ... and I count them
but rubbish in order that I might gain Christ ...
that I may know Christ ..." (Philippians
What would we gladly
"count as loss" to know Christ
more deeply? How might the world change,
our personal worlds and the larger world beyond us,
if such passionate spirituality became our driving
May we be
willing to pay whatever price necessary to abide
in Christ more fully this week. That's passionate
In HOPE -