Thursday, January 24, 2013

Destination Transformation: Part II

This is the second post in a blog series where I unpack TCOC's spiritual formation model in hopes that it will help in your spiritual transformation. In my first post I highlighted the goal, "The End," the aim of the gospel: TRANSFORMATION. In this post I will us an example from Jesus' life to show how TRANSFORMATION took center stage in Jesus' ministry and it's implications for the church today.

Engage the Unchurched
Jesus did not come as a religion entrepreneur. He did not step out of heavenly glory, wrap himself in fragile human flesh so he could establish another religious system. The Son of God did not come down with a new set of Stone Tablets entitled How to Be Spiritual. "One or two Communion prayers?" did not even make his Stuff-that-matters list. His mission did not entail an article for Christianity Today arguing theologically for Home Church over Mega Church. He came to change the world and not in some kind of nebulous disembodied domain, but in a tangible, relevant and practical way.

In Mark 3, Jesus gathers on Saturday, as all faithful Jews, in the synagogue. He finds himself face to face with a man crippled by a shriveled hand. Jesus' gut reaction is to heal the man, to mend and restore. To any rational human being, healing makes the most sense, but not to religion. The Pharisees were counting on Jesus' healing instincts, because to heal meant to break Sabbath Law.

Connect to Christ
Sabbath Law defined "work" as any activity exercising dominion over your environment. Healing clearly demonstrated authority over one's environment and therefore it was a blatant violation of Sabbath Law.  This moment provided a prime opportunity for Jesus to prove his spiritual superiority and his religious mastery to the Pharisees, but Jesus did not come to be Judaism's Most Valuable Player. He came to save, to heal, to redeem, to TRANSFORM!

So...Jesus gets angry, stands the man up in front of the scheming leaders and restores his hand! Technically he breaks The Law, but a man goes home that day with a recreated hand. If Jesus had simply followed the powerless rules and rituals of his day he would prove nothing except his self-discipline, but by raising a dead hand to life he screamed of God's tangible love.

Connect to Others
In many of our neighborhoods the church sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. Our discussions and conversations often have very little relevance to a world hungry for the tangible love of Jesus.  I pray God uses the Church not as a club for theological and doctrinal discourse but as a transforming catalyst and guide in people's lives.
  • We want to see drug addicts set free.
  • We want to see the lonely find a community of friends.
  • We want marriages restored.
  • We want single parents to find "co-parents" in their church family.
  • We want to see people move from being money slaves to generous Kingdom givers.
  • We want to see people break free from debt.
  • We want to see individuals who are in the final phase of life die well, loved, and unafraid.
  • We want to see the hungry fed.
  • We want to see the unemployed find work.
  • We want to see bitter individuals discover joy through forgiveness.
  • We want to see apathy catch fire.
  • We want to see people discover compassion for the first time.
  • We want to see racial division and social segregation collapse.
  • We want to see prisons turned into churches.
  • We want to see strip clubs remodeled into teenage pregnancy centers.
  • We want to see Satan fall like lightening.
  • We want to see TRANSFORMATION through Jesus.

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