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Crosfigell

Outside-In

Spiritual growth, for the most part, in an inside-out affair.

He who long harbors bitterness in his heart shall be healed by a joyful countenance and a glad heart. But if he does not quickly lay this aside, he shall correct himself by fasting...

- The Penitential of Cummean (Irish, 7th century)

...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

- Philippians 4.6, 7

Spiritual growth, for the most part, in an inside-out affair. That is, we digest spiritual food in our souls - heart, mind, conscience - through the practice of various spiritual disciplines, and, as that food begins its transforming work by the power of God's Spirit, we are remade into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

However, sometimes growth occurs from the outside-in - as in this prescription by Cummean. By giving thanks and praise when we feel dejected or downcast (cf. Ps. 42), we engage our outward members in re-shaping our inner disposition. By adopting a joyful countenance we train our hearts and minds for rejoicing in all things.

Paul's instruction in Philippians 4.6, 7 is along these same lines. When anxiousness is seeking to ensnare us, we give thanks and praise to God; the peace of God follows, flowing to our hearts and minds from our faith-expressing mouths. We give thanks not necessarily because we feel thankful, but because we are obedient. This outward act of faith brings the inner transformation we seek, which then, in turn, reinforces our outward behavior in the direction of holiness.

Don't simply wait around to "feel" like you need to be obedient to the Lord in some particular outward gesture (love your neighbor? share your faith? spend more time in the Word?). If you wait until you "feel" like it, you may wait too long. Do what you are instructed to do as an act of obedient faith, and persevere in it, and God will bring the inner and lasting change you seek.

Today in ReVision: Sweating in the Spirit - Perhaps bodily exercise can be more than a little profitable?

I apologize for the week off last Monday through Friday. Our website is in the final stages of transitioning to a new domain, and I took the time to focus on other things while this change is being completed. We'll let you know when we're fully up and running on our new site.

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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