Monday, January 21, 2013

Destination Transformation

Seven months ago I started preaching again...resurrected but completely unqualified and undeserving. The grace-filled community of TCOC invited me to partner with them in welcoming the Kingdom of God to Downriver (southern Detroit burbs). Unlike past ministry experiences, they hired me as another piece to living out the vision God had placed before them rather than hiring me to aid in vision discernment. I believe God called my family here because our vision aligned with TCOC. Stepping into a community already convicted by God's leading has created a very smooth transition thus far.

With the brief introduction behind us, this post is the first in a series unpacking TCOC's vision and mission.  I'm sharing this on my blog because I believe TCOC's vision captures the function of the gospel, the heart of God, and the calling of the Church. I pray these posts will enrich your relationship with Christ and create lasting change in your life.

TCOC's mission statement reads:
To engage our community in spiritual transformation by connecting people to Christ and one another.

Not only does the mission statement serve as our decision-making filter, but inherent to the statement is a spiritual formation model. I believe God, as a relational being, not only relentlessly pursues us, but invites us to chase him with the same abandoned passion. A spiritual formation model is a intentional and practical pursuit of God. We communicate our model through a simple formula:

Enagage the Unchurched 
Connect to Christ 
Connect to Others 

In order to understand the spiritual formation model, I start with "The End:" TRANSFORMATION.

Growing up I argued the Christian "End," the goal, the aim was heaven - to walk the golden streets, grub the all-you-can-eat calorie free buffet, sing God's Family 1 million to the millionth times (Actually, that sounds a lot more like Hell). But, the more I dug into the macro movement of scripture I realized "heaven" was a byproduct of God's ultimate aim.

During another season in my life, I came to believe the "End" was to be like Jesus, to be the perfect live out the great commission in my own life to do everything Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). Yes, God calls us to follow Jesus, to become "little Jesuses" in the world, but one question moved me a step further in my quest toward The End: WHY? Why be like Jesus? So I can give legalism a new twist and elevate my Christian status by being more like Jesus than you? To master Jesus' teachings rather than let Jesus master my heart?

After more study and a renewed discovery of Jesus, I realized when I become like Jesus, the world becomes more like The Garden. God's shalom swells. As more people become "Little Jesuses," the more sin's curse goes in reverse. In other words, discipleship is the TRANSFORMATION of me for the TRANSFORMATION of the world.

God seeks the TRANSFORMATION of all things. TRANSFORMATION has may aliases: restoration, resurrection, recreation, new birth, New Heavens, New Earth, etc.  The pages of scritpture testify to a God who is transforming a rotting creation through the sacrifice of Christ's death and the power of his resurrection:

  • Jesus describes his ministry as one of TRANFORMATION: ...he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor...proclaim freedom for the prisoners...recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free... (Luke 4:18-19)
  • The culmination of Christ ministry was on one of TRANSFORMATION. There is no greater TRANSFORMATION than dead to life: Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24:5b-6a).
  • Paul captures the essence of conversion as TRANSFORMATION: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (II Cor. 5:17)
  • Paul goes on to describe life after conversion as ongoing TRANSFORMATION: have take off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the image of its creator.
  • Paul also alludes to TRANSFORMATION not simply as God's goal for humanity but for all creation: ...creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Rom. 8:21)
  • John supports Paul's theology for cosmic TRANSFORMATION when he hears God's voice declare: I am making everything new! (Rev. 21:5a)
I believe God is up to something EPIC...if that isn't the understatement of the millennium. The day the stone rolled everything began to change. I want to see TRANSFORMATION that only comes through Christ in me, at TCOC, in Downriver, in Metro Detroit...and in you!

Our destination? Transformation. In my next post, I will explore a passage that brings TRANSFORMATION to the forefront of Christ's ministry.

Father, may you bring all who read these words ever deeper into Christ. May they never be same...not today, not tomorrow, not the next day...may they be renewed in your very image for their sake and for the sake of the world. Amen!

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