Now Is the Time! Recession Is No Excuse for Recess!

It Is About Transformation

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"Jesus did not call us to be mad at sinners all the time. Until our communities come to notice our love as the predominant mood of our lives, I seriously doubt that they will believe anything true about the love of God or respond to His love."

I wonder sometimes if those who do not embrace the God movement as led by Jesus find the word, "transformation" offensive as if it means that we intend to impose some extreme makeover on them against their will. I wonder this because I like the term almost as much as I like the process that it describes.

But I understand what I mean.

Perhaps there are those in our ranks who do intend to impose our values and beliefs, but that is not true of most of the people with whom I hang out and alongside whose ministries I serve.

I think most folks agree, from the secular realm to the sacred that our communities need transformation. In touching the possibility of personal transformation, most embrace the concept that people are most fulfilled when they move from a negative outlook with negative, hurtful behavior to a positive stance.

That is our common ground and we do not compromise our theology by affirming it.

We believe that as churches working together and individually, we have a message and a presence that can help people and communities move toward the transformation that they deeply desire. That is what we mean. It is at least what I mean. There is something about the message of grace, sacrifice, mercy, and resurrection hope that lifts people who have been beaten down by life.

This transformation is not achieved by beating people up with the gospel, force feeding them the Word of God, or disrespecting their beliefs and lifestyles. Sometimes it is achieved incrementally. Sometimes it happens and we do not notice. It often happens as we work together with different sorts of folks in our communities and simply, authentically affirm that we come to the table because God loves people and has given us the capacity to love people and serve them in Jesus' Name - not as a means to an end, but because of we really do care about felt needs as well as spiritual needs of people.

I think most folks can sniff out an ulterior motive a mile away.

I also believe that by simple witness of presence accompanied by respectful witness of words, when they are welcome, that God is able and His message is compelling enough to apply grace to the hearts of people and meet spiritual needs without us being manipulative, dishonest, or overbearing.

If I don't believe that about God, why should I expect anyone else to believe it and respond to Him in faith?

I think we have gone into a defensive mode, desperately fearing that the church will lose ground if we don't address every hint of opposition with a frontal attack. Perhaps we doubt that God really does have a Kingdom that will come and  will that shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Perhaps we are so unwilling to suffer the slightest inconvenience much less persecution for the cause of Christ that we labor to create a society where it is safe to be a Christian.

The call of God is never to play it safe.

The word Christian was first coined as a title of derision and freely embraced by believers who were willing to be seen as-counter cultural and to be excluded, maligned, and persecuted.

If we are going to be significant, authentic, and effective as agents of transformation, we will have to penetrate our communities, be present, be visible, be odd and yet make friends and work alongside others who do not share our commitments. We don't have to compromise our moral values, our beliefs about marriage in Christ, or our understanding of the demands of personal holiness before God. But neither do we need to make them the principle focus points of our message to the world because that is not the message we have been given to proclaim as primary.

Jesus did not call us to be mad at sinners all the time.

Until our communities come to notice our love as the predominant mood of our lives, I seriously doubt that they will believe anything true about the love of God or respond to His love.

I think we are coming around to this biblical understanding of our mission, but we still have a ways to go. What we are about is transformation and transformation is not renovation. It is something spiritual and dynamic and if we really believe it is possible, we will relax a bit in our efforts to frantically manipulate our environments into Christian ghettos and realize that God is up to something already and He does not need us pulling strings for Him. All He needs from us is for us to be transparent, faithful, and loving witnesses to His grace and love.

Don't we believe that God is real and active in our world and in our witness? I do and that really speaks to most of my worries about living in a post-modern, post-"Christian" world with distorted world views and questionable morality. I am concerned about broken people caught up in all of that and I believe that is where God's heart is as well.

It is all about transformation and we can be agents of it.