Listenings: Congruence

Life did not begin the day we were born.  It did not begin with us.  As we exited our mother’s womb, we entered into a “life” that was already going on.  In this way, our physical birth is a metaphor for what our spiritual life is intended to be:  a stepping into Life that is already going on.  The spiritual life does not begin with us; it begins with God.

Scottish writer Henry Scougal called it, “the life of God in the human soul.”  That definition has become a standard way of describing the spiritual life.  More recently, Eugene Peterson has used the word “congruence” to describe it.  Evelyn Underhill said that the spiritual life is a “conscious correspondence” with this Life.

The spiritual life is life by God, with God, in God and for God:  God, God, God!  First, last, and always.  When we are in alignment with the ways of God, we can properly be said to be living “a spiritual life”—the life God intends for us to live.  All other life comes from another source—usually our own egotism, but perhaps the demands or desires which others place upon us.  Whenever the source for our life is in something or someone other than God, we are not living a truly spiritual life.

Being made in the image of God means we are “like” God (see Genesis 1:26), and this “likeness” creates a hunger to share a deep and abiding fellowship with God.  From that likeness come our temptation to confuse other things with God and go chasing after them.  But from that likeness also comes our greatest glory—to live, move, and have our being “in” the God who has made us.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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