Seen, Known, Loved
Spiritual Formation in the Rhetoric School
By Matthew Farrelly, Bible Teacher
The old adage has it that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Biblical wisdom richly binds together seeing as knowing, and knowing as loving, as the state of our soul affects how well we see, know, and love. Holistic spiritual transformation happens when we receive new spiritual eyes to see, know, and love God, ourselves, one another, and our world more truly and rightly in accordance with God’s design.
Paul captures this interrelationship between seeing, knowing, and loving in his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Paul remembers very well his own dim vision from his blinding Damascus road conversion in which he saw Christ truly. In Corinthians, Paul imparts to us a picture in which we really never leave our “Damascus road,” but are invited to progress further along in our vision, knowledge, and love of God.
Our love is always responsive. We must begin to know that we are seen, known, and loved by God first of all. Earlier in the Corinthian correspondence Paul writes, “Anyone who loves God is known by God” (8:3). In Covenant’s Spiritual Formation class we want to progress in our experience of what it is like to be seen, known, and loved by God and to see, know, and love Him in return.
To do this, we strive to create a space in which students and teacher together form real, safe, vulnerable, and joy-filled community. Each class, we prayerfully read and meditate upon the scriptures and the wisdom of the saints in order that we might begin to encounter God and internalize the truth of His goodness, mercy, and love toward us. Students engage in “soul projects” that are developed to move them into greater knowledge of themselves in relationship with God. While we certainly engage in theoretical discussion aimed at renewing the mind (both through in-class dialogue and online blogging), we seek to unite our intellectual knowledge with the knowledge of the heart. Students are introduced to a variety of spiritual disciplines, including prayer journaling (always kept private) in which they are invited to respond to readings and meditations. In addition to the Holy Scriptures, we prayerfully read and respond to a diversity of great Christian spiritual authors: a meditation on the character of God in A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy; a compilation of readings representing the diversity of Christian traditions and practices in Devotional Classics, and The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence’s insights into cultivating a life of praying without ceasing. All in all, we desire to cultivate a time and space in which to invite God to continue to refine our vision and shape our lives so that we might be changed from one degree of glory to another.
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