A previous post and some comments on it led me to think of an essay by Dallas Willard in his book The Great Omission, titled “The Spirit is Willing, But… The Body as a Tool for Spiritual Growth” (pgs 80-90). I believe some quotes from it are in order.
Willard first sets some background parameters:
This process of “conformation to Christ,” as we might more appropriately call it, is constantly supported by grace and otherwise would be impossible. But it is not therefore passive. Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort. In fact, nothing inspires and enhances effort like the experience of grace.
With that established he warns:
Yet it is today necessary to assert boldly and often that becoming Christ-like never occurs without intense and well-informed action on our part.
Lest we become overly individualistic and myopically focused on only ourselves, Willard reminds:
This in turn cannot be reliably sustained outside of a like-minded fellowship.
Conscious of today’s great lack, Willard reports
Probably the least understood aspect of progress in Christ-likeness is the role of the body in the spiritual life.
Almost all of us are acutely aware of how the incessant clamorings of our bodies defeat our intentions to “be spiritual.” The Apostle Paul explains that “what the flesh desired is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh;” (Galatians 5:17).
Contrary to what many of us experience the truth is that:
…if the body is simply beyond redemption, then ordinary life is too.
And we, with Jesus, Paul & Dallas Willard, maintain vociferously that nothing in life is beyond redemption.