I was driving this morning on my way to the office and began asking myself a few critical questions. Yes, out loud. Yes, I know that makes me a little off center. I'm cool with it.
I've always struggled with the idea of writing about the life of Christian spiritual formation because it isn't exactly like an object that can be described or a process that you can give the step 1, 2, and 3 plan for completing it.
It's story based. It shows us progressing and regressing. It's punctuated with pain and joy and midlife crises and new found heart conditions. Formation is complicated in how it happens but the who seems pretty clear.
God the Father. Jesus the Son. The Spirit. The community, the church, that is His body.
As I drove and thought about living and writing, I noticed a dense fog had settled just above a nearby cornfield. It was as if a cloud had fallen from the sky, stopping only feet from the ground by the force of some gravitational parachute that now held it suspended among the bare stalks and clumps of earth.
It was here this morning in a very tangible and visible way, but I know that it comes from a bigger and far less defined atmospheric condition of warm air and cold air meeting "moistly" in the middle.
Two very important and very deep theological concepts came to mind immediately:
Immanence: the reality that God and His desires are intricately woven into the here and now. God is here. Transcendence: the reality that God is above and beyond the world we live in - above it in control and dominion. God is outside of here.
I realize that these aren't anywhere near complete definitions, nor are they enough to teach the concepts completely, but they will hopefully spur our thoughts toward this end: What questions must we ask of ourselves, and therefore be transformed by the answers to these questions, if in fact immanence and transcendence are true.
If God is here, which is what we see acted out in the life of Jesus & now is given through His spirit, how do we live in light of that reality?
If God is beyond the control and restrictions of this place, how do we view the things that cause us fear and anxiety?
The key to our formation, and indeed to the formissional life that God has called us to, is to sit with the answers to these questions and honestly assess what our responses are and how they reflect what character elements God is working on in our lives today.
What does the fog look like in your life today? How is God immanent to you today? Where do you need to trust in God's transcendence today?