“Transformation” is a current hot topic in the church and in missiological circles. In general Christian usage, the concept reflects a movement from darkness to light – from individual and societal brokenness caused by sin toward the healing of that brokenness. This healing expresses itself in the relative presence of God’s Shalom – relative to the degree that God’s will is done.
Unfortunately, I think this concept is often presented from an unbiblical perspective. Specifically, there is an emphasis in current literature and in conferences that by doing certain things, churches, missionaries, Christians, etc. can – by their actions – cause movement from brokenness to healing. The actions proposed are generally projects that address general or specific expressions of brokenness such as poverty, human trafficking, abortion, etc. While such efforts are good, the current dialogue tends to suggest that it is our actions that bring about the changes we would love to see.
My reading of Scripture presents a subtle but I think crucially important difference. In brief I see the difference this way:
1. The personal and societal brokenness which results from sin is so complex and deep that it is beyond human solution. In other words, the best human wisdom and skills cannot in and of themselves result in biblical healing/transformation.
2. Biblical healing is supernatural and requires God’s supernatural intervention.
This intervention is both promised and conditional. First, it is conditioned on God’s people (note: not all people) acting in obedience, i.e., living the way God asks/commands. Second, it is promised. To the degree that His people live in such a way as to reflect his will/His character the shalom of His Kingdom will come.
This is one thing we learn from the Lord’s Prayer, “…thy kingdom come,” How? “thy will be done.” When? Now! Where? “On earth as it is in heaven.” This reading of Scripture doesn’t discourage human action but recognizes that our healing comes not from our action, but from God in response to our obedience. Our works are vitally important as a condition of God’s action. But we need to be aware that “transformation” is a result of God’s response to our obedience rather than of our good works. If we see transformation as a by-product of our efforts, we are at risk of glorying in our works rather than celebrating God’s initiative and thereby glorifying Him.
- Bob Moffit, co-founder of Disiciple Nations Alliance (This post is excerpted from Bob’s July newsletter at Harvest Foundation where he serves as president.)