Spiritual Formation And Resurrection
Tagged: Spiritual Formation
March 6, 2018 at 9:10 pm #76266
In early Christian writings, the anastasis, or resurrection, is often described by the metaphor of what happens inside a chrysalis to the emerging butterfly. The phoenix was another often used illustration – the firebird rising from the ashes.
Resurrection is not the new birth of something that was never before. Rather, it is the formation, indeed the transformation, of something that, in its essence, already was and is in a new phase of emerging.
Spiritual formation is like resurrection. We are in a continual process of living and dying, and each choice, each thought, each action, each experience either aids or stunts the development in our hearts we each so eagerly desire.
What is the goal of spiritual formation? For us, like the caterpillar, we realize that there is more to come, more to be discovered, more to be embraced about who we are and what we are called to be about in this world. Yet something else is also true. We are aware that our end goal is not simply to be “self-actualized,” fully aware of our own becoming as if we were a part of a story that began and ended in us (I quite fancy the idea that one day a movie will come out about me entitled, “Me, Myself, and I: On Becoming Dan Wilt” – but something feels slightly wrong about that idea).
If you are a follower of Jesus (and if you’re not, may I encourage you to consider that he may have a claim on your life), then your spiritual formation is about you moving
From the image of God, into the likeness of Christ.
A LIMITED VIEW OF A LIFETIME
For the lowly caterpillar, pudgy and filling itself with food in anticipation of its next phase of being, the view must be very limited. An entire lifetime, if one could get inside the mind of the unwieldy larvae, is spent on a lowly journey over limbs and twigs, eating holes every leaf and morsel in site. “Could you imagine yourself to be the butterfly you see overhead?” asks a passing moth. “No,” says the caterpillar. “The view I have now is the only view I have ever known.”
Content, the caterpillar is; to be just who it knows itself to be.
Yet, something is going on deep inside the caterpillar. An urge, unspoken, irresistible, is forcing its way to the surface of the caterpillar’s consciousness – “Build,” it says, “Build a shelter, a womb, a place of transformation.” With energies renewed by the leaves it has chewed, and secretions from its own body, the caterpillar builds that shelter.
But is it a womb, or is it a tomb? The encasing being created surely could become either. For now, however, the end must not be considered. Our caterpillar must create and enter its shell, sealing itself off from the outside world of light and life, and allow whatever greater purpose is at work to have its way.
Jesus has a plan to transform you into His image. Are you ready for the deep work it will take?
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