Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spiritual Formation: The Journey Inward Precedes the Journey Outward

My prayer chair, in my backyard by the river

In the spiritual life being comes before doing

This is hard for people who want to "do" great things for God and see time spent alone with God as wasted time. 

A number of pastors and Christian leaders fall into this category. They may say "I want to pray," but unless this translates into a life of actually praying their desire is an illusion. 

Ontologically (in the order of being) the Jesus-life works this way: 

1) Abide in Christ; 

2) Out of the abiding, obey (this is the "doing" part).

Authentic, relevant obedience is a function of abiding.

I like how Henri Nouwen expresses this:

"Only out of the prayerful place of solitude and introspection can we hope for community and ministry. The journey inward precedes the journey outward, and the chronology is important. Spiritually, we need to know our selves and God in order to know other people. We need to love our selves and God in order to love each other. Communion with God precedes community with others and ministry in the world. Once the inward journey has begun, we can move outwardly from solitude to community and ministry." (Nouwen, Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit, Kindle Locations 2106-2109)