Friday, July 08, 2011
Upholding The Ideal
One of the great contributions he has made to my life has been to help me rethink the pervasive evangelical mantra and concept of “transformation.” It seems like every church and teacher out there today is calling people to come experience services that offer “life-transforming” worship, Bible studies and discipleship programs that will “transform” our Christian lives, new corporate strategies and leadership insights that will “transform” our churches, visionary missional approaches that will “transform” our communities, even our world.Hmmmm - sort of have a problem with that. The purpose of faith is to remake us. But if you go on to read the extensive quotations Mike relies on, a slightly different picture emerges - what is being argued against is dramatic transformation.
This is a classic case of over-sell. Our unbridled optimism about the potential for dramatic life-change and “impact” (another evangelical mantra) owes more to the myth of progress that we’ve eagerly embraced since the days of the Industrial Revolution than it does to how the Gospel actually works in lives, the church, and the world.
Apparently, I was not the only one to raise this objection as Mike posted the next day in clarification:
First, no one is denying that the Gospel changes lives. “I once was lost, but now am found” holds true as it always has. The Gospel includes the power of God, not only for justification, but also for what Francis Schaeffer called “substantial healing” in this life. I agree, and so does Mark Galli, by the way. The article I quoted speaks clearly about how God graciously allows us glimpses of the inbreaking Kingdom as a foretaste of the new creation in its fullness.So what they are really talking about is a call to patience and humility, not denying the fact that the Christ and the Holy Spirit truly change us. Fair enough - necessary even.
But still, too many, way too many, use the need or patience as excuse not to strive for the better, not to work on the transformation. As Christian we are called to be both patient and hopeful, resting and striving.
I do not want a transformed but I do want a church seeking transformation. I want a church that has not simply punted to the "not yet" part of "already, not yet." I want a church that each day takes a measure of where it falls short, accepts God's grace, and appropriates that grace to try harder today.