Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 6/9

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.

Frances Ridley Havergal

Transforming the body…

Willard looks at the transformation of body through both it’s capacity to act and also its physicality, both essential to spiritual formation and often over looked. Interestingly he suggests that:
"The body lies right at the centre of the spiritual life?"
Willard, D(. 2002) Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ
In other words the body, Willard suggests, remains the primary barrier to conformity to Christ. Strong words - as one quickly learning the gentle (so far) reality of middle aged spread, is he saying that being prone to putting on weight is a detriment to spiritual development? Certainly not! What he is saying is that any attitude to the body that fails to recognise the context that we honour God through our body and puts emphasis on sensual gratification represents an issue if we are to take consecration seriously. If that is eating the wrong food, or not enough food, whether that be an idolic approach to weight loss and fitness, whether that be an addiction to appearence - it represents a focus on self.

The transfromation of the body is a refocusing away from self, a denial of the body to govern life, a refusal to be pre-occupied with the body. So that we can embrace a life of consecration in the terms of Frances Ridley Havergal's beautiful Hymn (here.)

Willard outlines these steps to explore in the spiritual formation of our body:
  • We must actually release our bodies to God as a definite action,
  • No longer idolize your body as an object of your ultimate concern.
  • You do not misuse your body - through avoiding excess; through dominating or manipulating others through the intimidation of gossip, sarcasm, knowing looks and remarks, even unsuitable jokes; through avoiding overwork often associated with competitiveness.
  • The need to honour and care - through nourishment, exercise and rest - for the body recognising that the body is to be regarded as holy.
“Human ruin comes from placing oneself at the centre of one’s universe in place of God” (2002:160)

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 4/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 5/9

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