Process more. My professor used to write that on my papers. He did so especially on papers engaging scripture. It usually had little do with understanding the context or Greek, but had much more to do with applying the passage to my life. Biblical passages invite us to go beyond the surface of our behaviors and into our hearts. Not an easy task for us personally let alone in small groups.

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The Gospel brings transformation from the inside out. Jesus throughout the Gospels leads people to engage their hearts. He constantly rebukes the Pharisees for their self-righteousness and pride even with a religious exterior. The Sermon on the Mount raises the stakes of not just acting in sin, but the heart behind it.

Talking about the activity of our hearts can seem foreign. Partly because we fear if people actually heard the internal conversations with had with ourselves and partly because it’s difficult to put to words to someone else what’s happening in our inner life.

We cannot escape talking about our hearts. Spiritual transformation through the Gospel starts with our inner life.

How can we cultivate conversations about our inner life? Author Joanne Jung in Godly Conversation suggests adding one word for spiritual transformation; soul. She says this:

Soul-shaping spiritual transformation is foundational for closing the gap between what we know and what we do. Even when knowledge is not the Christ-follower’s problem, responding to and acting on godly convictions remains a challenge. Disparities exist between intellect and character, between knowing, doing, and being (pg. 170-171)

Using the word soul speaks to the activity of our hearts and inner life. At times it might sound ambiguous. Yet, the simple act of referring to soul calls us to process more for what God has in spiritual transformation.

Jung goes on to provide examples of how adding the word soul can add depth to spiritual questions for ourselves and small groups. Here are a few examples she offers:

What are the words or actions that demonstrate your soul’s love for Christ?
What is your soul afraid of God knowing?
For what is your soul thankful?
What are your soul-doubts?
What keeps your soul form believing a particular truth? (pg. 171-172)

Questions like these start the conversation of spiritual transformation. As individuals and communities, we begin have a language for Gospel change in our inner life. Adding the word soul can help us become more aware of the work in the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Grace empowers us to grow by processing more the attitudes, thoughts, and feeling of our souls, so that we might experience transformation and help others grow.

Photo credit by Björn Simon.