What is it to transform and be agents of transformation in the world? We sometimes expect that transformation takes place in an instant and often seek for this to happen. During the ministry of Jesus, many amazing transformations took place; the healing of many people, the conversion of sinners and the casting out of evil spirits seemed to just be commonplace and all, bar some, happened in an instant.
Transformation, however, is not always this fast. God still performs these transformations every day in churches around the world, but for every instantaneous miraculous transformation, there are many more miraculous transformations that take time, patience and perseverance.
It is also possible to examine transformations by investigating who is being transformed. We can have personal transformation as we personally experience the work of the spirit in our lives; church transformation as our faith communities respond to the spirit of God; and world transformation as the in-breaking Kingdom of God is realised within the broader context of the world. Let’s look at these.
Everyone who has faith in Jesus as Lord of their life has been transformed in some way. As we receive the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) God begins to transform our lives from the inside out, bringing about a transformation of our lives, challenging our actions, empowering our living and equipping our ministries.
From experience, this will happen either passively as we just live our life in faith or actively as we seek God to radically transform us and strive to make it happen. I am always encouraged to know that God is working in my life even when I don’t feel it, but I know that God also wants me to work with him to transform who I am. How are you working with God to transform who you are? We can struggle to overcome something in our lives but need to always know that God is already working on it and will empower us to bring about that transformation in our lives, relationships, health and ministries.
When a group of people are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is natural for their entire faith community (church) to be transformed.
Again, transformation seems to work in the same way – from the inside out. The spirit stirs in the hearts of people who then ‘annoy’ others in the church. The passion and calling in the individuals challenge the norm or complacency of an entire church, and gradually the culture begins to transform.
What is God stirring in you? Is it new mission for the church, is it a people group that you feel called to reach, is it a desire to see harmful traditions broken down and a vibrancy to return to them? Whatever it is, allow the spirit to connect you with others and in love speak with leaders and pastors to help you.
It is always exciting to see new life breathed into a church when people begin a process of transformation – allow God to use you to be the catalyst for transformation in your church.
World Transformation (Community Transformation)
Finally, transformation takes place in a community when transformed individuals join together and seek to impact on the community in which they live or feel called. Your local church is the best-placed organisation to bring about change in your community.
Community transformation works again in the same way – from the inside out! Your church is in the middle of the community geographically, but a church needs to be in the middle of the community relationally to bring about transformation on a large scale. If you support overseas mission, true transformation of the overseas community will only come if your church passionately pursues that community with love through prayer and practical needs. The sending of missionaries will just be an expression of that love.
The same applies with local mission (evangelism and social justice). It is not fear, complacency, distance or culture that separates us from transforming our community, but rather a lack of love. The excuses are just the symptoms of a larger problem.
The slogan of the church I pastor is ‘Love God, Love People and Live Jesus’. It is simple, straightforward and one of the hardest tasks any church can work towards. But with love for God and a love for people, the church – any church – will not, and cannot, decay nor decline. More and more Baptist churches are seeing the fruit of genuine love for people in transforming their communities.
What do you need to change and transform the world around you?