“Transformation is not some future event but it is the present activity now.”
Many times we see Facebook blubs or workplace posters strategically placed in lunchrooms to restrooms trying to inspire people to produce more and make them feel better about themselves. You will see things like, “believe you can and you are halfway there” or “accept no one’s definition of your life, define yourself.”
By definition inspiration is a person, place, and experiences that makes someone want to do or create something, and can be a good idea. An accurate definition is the act of drawing in: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions. Breathing in is the motivation here. But one needs to be careful of what and how they are receiving inspiration and that the inspiration is not the end of the experience.
Many seem to get caught up on this merry-go-round that never stops that inspirational comments are churned out hoping to lift and encourage someone in our society and churches that will deliver them out of some low place that they are in and experiencing. Inspiration is good and profitable but it is not the answer alone. Inspiration is only good as the tool to help bring transformation to peoples lives. Without transformation, inspiration is like a candy or sugar high that makes you feel good for awhile but does not carry you very far without real change taking place within us.
I think we must periodically examine ourselves and our churches and see that we are not only inspirational churches that lift people up but are also helping them to see the transforming change that Christ wants to do in them. Churches and church people can get stuck in status-quo of doing and speaking uplifting messages and send people home without challenge for transformation.
By definition transformation is change in composition, outward form and character. Romans 12:2 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” In society we hear many things from all over the place, but it is the things of God that which should be the determining factors in our lives. This world will say a lot of seemingly good things but they go against what scripture tells us. Remember earlier the quote that said, “believe you can and you are halfway there.” It is true that belief or faith is the key but it can not be unlocked by our power of anything we have done but only through Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Transformation takes our people and our churches from hoping so to being so, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Galatians 2:20. Change in life and in ourselves is inevitable, but transformation is by conscious choice. Transformation happens when you move from inspired ideas to transformative action in a deliberate and intentional way. Transformation is not some future thing that you plan to do sometime or somewhere but the present activity that you are doing now that makes the difference.
In the letter to the Ephesian church Paul prayed for them to do exactly this thing. In chapter 1 he prays that the church would be illuminated or inspired by the fact that they are the children of God and that they belong to Him and to inherit the Kingdom. But Paul goes on to pray in chapter 3 that not only would their eyes be opened but that they would act upon it as a realization in their lives…to be transformed in that knowledge.
Your church does not have to be a big church to make this difference in your community. Yes, be faithful to inspiring people, but also challenging them into the transformation that God wants for them. The other inspirational quote said, “accept no one’s definition of your life, define yourself,” The biblical view would say, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It is in Christ that we should be defined not in ourselves. D.L. Moody said, “the bible was not given for information (or suggestions) but for our transformation.”
Pastors and leaders, lets not just fill our people up on candy that will not last but feed us and them with the strong meat that will make them strong and useful for the Kingdom. Giving them the strength and courage to make that inspiration a realization and transformation in their lives.
Pastor Rob Beckett at Shepherdsville Nazarene Church on the Kentucky district. Restoring the “Image of God” to the broken and hurting.