As James put it: "Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?" (James 2:14-15, the Message).
Questions like these challenge contemporary Christians to examine our lives realistically and consider what practices we can actually begin and continue regularly.
"Spirituality has become the contemporary word of choice for expressing how we live with God in this world," writes Marjorie J. Thompson. But she prefers to use the phrase, "the spiritual life." This life is "the increasing vitality and sway of God's Spirit in us . . . The spiritual life is thus grounded in relationship. It has to do with God's way of relating with us and our way of responding to God."
Like James, Paul wrote often about the way God's Spirit can transform any individual (see his explanation in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, and Colossians 1:15). The life of a Christ follower becomes an ongoing process of continual reshaping and becoming "clothed with Christ."
As Thompson writes in Soul Feast: "This reshaping is the basic meaning of spiritual formation in the Christian tradition. The term formation lies at the heart of words like conformation, reformation, and transformation. It invites us to consider:
"What or whose form are we seeking? What in our personal or corporate life, needs to be re-formed?"
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Soul Feast: An invitation to the spiritual life, by Marjorie J. Thompson
(Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, © 1995, 2005).