Tuesday, March 08, 2011

"Grace" As the Concrete Manifestation of the Activity of God

Bolles Harbor
I ordered and received a copy of the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care. It's the Fall 2010 edition, with its theme "Dallas Willard and Spiritual Formation." I'll be taking this with me today as I spend a one-on-one day with God.

I am so grateful for Willard and his Kingdom-labors. He is a brilliant philosopher, an excellent writer and communicator, and passionate Jesus-follower. In the area of spiritual formation his contribution is huge.

In the Introduction to this journal Willard's definition of "grace" is given. "Grace is God acting in our lives to bring about what we do not deserve and cannot accomplish on our own." (126) It is especially that final phrase that makes this, for me, compelling.

I know that "grace" has the core meaning of "gift." A gift is, precisely, something I have not earned and thereby do not deserve. But God's grace is also purpose-driven. The gift of grace is given so that God might work through me to accomplish Kingdom-things I could not have done by my own wisdom and strength. In this sense God's grace manifests itself. The spiritual gift of prophecy, e.g., is the divine enrichment of our speech and knowledge so as to share words that are not reducible or attributable to our own abilities.

To only emphasize grace as something done to me is to treat it passively. To add to this the idea that grace "accomplishes" God-things is to see it as dynamic and active. "Grace" is the concrete manifestation of the activity of God in the life of a submitted Jesus-follower.