Journey to Transformation

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Transformation may be one of the hottest topics in Christendom, but the term itself has no commonly accepted definition. Unfortunately, this ambiguity often leads believers to talk past one another when they attempt to describe or categorize God’ s expectations and handiwork.

Very little of this confusion is related to what God can do at a personal level. Nearly all Christians readily acknowledge that God transforms broken lives through the renewing of the mind. They also understand and accept that He works with families (recasting relational dysfunction into models of mutual respect and support), and with churches (replacing forms of godliness with genuine spiritual life and power).

Believers are far less certain when the conversation turns to the transformation of neighborhoods, cities, and regions. It is not enough to say that God can do such a thing… or even that He is doing it. They still need to know exactly what “it” is.

The difficulty is holding a conversation on a topic that only a handful of believers have directly experienced. Lacking personal memories of transforming revival, most people are forced to rely on their imagination; but since God’s presence and handiwork always exceed human imaginations, this all but guarantees that they will conjure images that are inaccurate and diminished.

To define transformation according to popular opinion or our own limited experiences is to dilute the term of its inherent power and meaning. Furthermore, since no human being has the capacity to author transformation, there is a real question about whether we have the right to define it at all.

Humility suggests a better course. According to Ecclesiastes 7:13, the simplest and most elegant solution to the confusion posed by today’ s competing theories is to…

“Consider what God has done…”

Why rely on human conjecture when we can consult divine history? Apart from observing the Father at work, we have no way to discover truly reliable principles for success.

There should also be a correlation between what we are observing on the ground and the revelation of God’s Word. Scripture is not silent on the subject of corporate transformation, and the detail it provides is essential to any definition we ultimately adopt or commend to others. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus declared to his disciples,

“This is how you should pray: …on earth as it is in heaven.”

With these brief words we are reminded that God’s presence and purposes are to be the central focus of human society. They are to be realized and promoted not in some limited, religious manner, but as they are in heaven.

While many Christians assume transforming revival is about growing congregations, it is actually a matter of renaming or re-identifying our cities. To quote the prophet Isaiah, we are to “give [ourselves] no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem (or London, NewYork, or Singapore) and makes her the praise of the earth”(Isaiah62:6-7). We are to “renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations” (Isaiah61:4). If we do this, Ezekiel promises, “the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezekiel 48:35).

Transforming revival is a communal restoration of the God – man relationship. It is a corporate return to first love. It is a conscious re-enthroning of the King, not only over the realm of religious expression (meaning our church life), but over every dimension of life. There can be no secular – sacred or public – private dichotomy. He must be invited — and expected— to assume control of every thing from the sanctuaries of our hearts to the structures of our society. Simply put, for the term transformation to be properly applied to a community, change must be evident not only in the lives of its inhabitants, but also in the fabric of its institutions. In the end, it is dramatic social, political, and even ecological renewal that sets these cases apart from common experience.

In short, a transformed community is…

  • A neighborhood, city or nation whose values and institutions have been overrun by the grace and presence of God
  • A place where divine fire has not merely been summoned, it has fallen
  • A society in which natural evolutionary change has been disrupted by invasive supernatural power
  • A culture that has been impacted comprehensively and undeniably by the Kingdom of God
  • A location where Kingdom values are celebrated publicly and passed on to future generations

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