As the gulf coast and Caribbean region deal with the devastation following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, I can't help but think of Paul's reminder from Romans 8. Here Paul informs us that all creation is groaning under the curse of sin, eagerly awaiting God's redemption and new creation. Sadly, while acts of nature continue to prove incredibly destructive, scripture and history remind us that it is human nature that consistently proves to be our greatest threat. We can be our own worst enemy. We know what it's like to long "to be released from sin and suffering" (Rom. 8:29). Things are not at they should be.
The good news of the gospel tells us that there is hope for our struggling world and lives. God did something about it through Jesus. God is doing something about it through his Spirit. God will do something about it when Christ comes again and renews our broken world. And God's not content to wait until Christ's return. God's new creation is happening now, and we are called to be a part of it.
There's a series of words that show up in scripture that all come from the same Greek root--morph. We are invited, we are expected, we are empowered to be people who morph, who are formed and transformed into the image of Jesus, changed from who we are into the image we were created to bear (Rom. 8:29; Gal. 4:19; 2 Cor. 3:18). If we will let him, if we will cooperate instead of compete with the work of the Spirit, then God will change us more and more into the image of Jesus.
The study of spiritual disciplines we are about to embark on is meant to help us in those efforts. Our goal is not to be better at engaging in spiritual practices. Our aim is to form habits that help transform our hearts. Transformation is a gift of the Spirit. We can't do it without God, but God won't do it without us.