The journey of the human soul into fellowship with God…

“Spiritual Formation”

By James M. Norris, M.Div., LMFT

One aspect of the Vine’s mission is spiritual formation. Spiritual formation refers to the ongoing, lifelong process through which our lives are being transformed into the likeness of Christ. This transformation is the work of God’s grace in our lives.

…Only that which is brought to the light of consciousness can be healed by God’s gracious love.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he offers this prayer which speaks to the process of spiritual formation. “I pray that according to the riches of His glory, you may be strengthened in your inner being through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

This transformation process, often referred to as spiritual growth, involves coming to terms with what some refer to as our “dark side” or in classical Christian language our Sin. All of us can identify with the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:19-20).

Pastoral counseling/psychotherapy can help us understand thoughts, feelings, and unconscious motivations that underlie our actions. This is important because only that which is brought to the light of consciousness can be healed by God’s gracious love. The Judeo-Christian story tells us that this love comes to us in many ways but most especially through relationships – relationships with the Holy One and with significant others and through relationships within our communities of faith.

The spiritual disciplines of worship, individual prayer time and Bible study and service to others all contribute to our spiritual formation. Experiencing wonder and beauty of God’s creation in nature gives us an appreciation of the interrelatedness of all of life and our place on this planet. In essence, spiritual formation takes place whenever and wherever God’s grace is working to bring healing and wholeness to human lives.