frustransformation

22 01 2012

They say most preachers only have one sermon. You just hope it’s a good one as you’re gonna hear it week in week out. I think mine has changed over the years but at the moment it is about transformation. That when we invite God into our lives that is part of the great transformation of God’s creation, the reconciliation of all things to God, and the beginning of us living in the way God intended. Basically the kingdom coming. Transformation. With him, in him, by him, for him.

I've got a new sermon! Have you? No not really.

The trouble with a transformation message is that it can sound like triumphalism, or that terrible false promise that if you turn to God all your problems will go away. You will be ‘healed’, which I think means being turned into a squeaky clean smiley and annoying person, of the type we all wish we had more of only so we can fill the spaces in the rotas.

Transformation is very different from triumphalism; being in a relationship with God is very far from a self-help life-improving life-style choice, though of course the complication comes from the fact that hopefully our lives do change for the better. Now, I am sure that some people will be able to point to lives that have been totally transformed. And healed. Hooray! But the gritty and annoying reality is that for most of us, transformation is a bit more incremental. Small steps. No steps. Backward steps?

How do you keep believing that God is and will and wants to transform us and our communities when he doesn’t seem to do very much. Now we are getting somewhere. Because then we start to look.

We ask ourselves, am I dismissing the small changes in people (that are actually massive in their context) because we want to see changes we can write books about and impress people with our stories? Am I dismissing a new openness from someone previously closed to God’s message; am I dismissing the value of being a part of the church community to those with fledgeling faith but lonely hearts; am I mistaking transformation for ticking the boxes of quantitative, measurable change?

It is true that sometimes I get disheartened. Call it transformation-frustration. Or frustransformation, if you will.  Don’t get me wrong – not because I don’t think God is doing amazing things. But because I want more! I don’t want a sort of ‘transformation-lite’, in which a few people feel a bit better and the congregation grows a bit because we’re all lovely. No!

I want to see this community and this church changing in a big way – I want to see depression banished, alcoholism defeated, domestic situations calmer, husbands coming to faith.

I want to see tired old ladies glowing with the Spirit, I want to see men who have never grown up suddenly realising their responsibilities and their potential; I want to see young people smiling and laughing and confident in who they are without needing drugs or sex the thrill of being annoying to get them through.

I want to see the ill healed (and not just made comfortable), I want to see debts got rid off and I want to see people really and actually and everyday believing and knowing that they are treasured and loved by their creator God. And that that informs how we all live and speak. That we may all do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

There’s me and my one sermon again.

So, God. In the words of Coldplay, this is a comma not a full stop, so where’s your answer?


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5 responses

22 01 2012
c2drl

Far be it for me to try and put words in Gods mouth, it works much better the other way round, but I wonder if his answer might go a bit like this?

My child, I am delighted that you are so keen to see things “put right” and more of my actions discernable. Perhaps your frustration is a good thing and will spur you on to greater prayer.

However I wonder whether you look too long at the things which trouble you and not long enough at the things which please me. I take joy in the small steps achieved by my disciples. I delight when others step in to help those who are in trouble. I see opportunities, not failure. I am interested in the direction in which people are travelling, not the point they have reached.

Existence in this world at this time is not a finished product, it is a work in progress. I am at work ressurecting you and all my creation for a new life and to do that I need to cut and chisel, to shape and polish.That can be painful but if you look beyond the horizon of your present circumstances and try to glimpse what I have in store you may catch a sense of what I am doing. Some of those who presently frustrate you may become corner stones.

They call you people of the way. On your journet, please keep caring for my people and seeking to change things that are wrong, but please too look at me and enjoy me and my creation, as it is, and glory in what I have done and am doing and will do. It is possible to get so angry and frustrated that you stop travelling.

You see, unlike you I have time, I brought time into being when I created the Universe in which you currently exist and there are other places where time as you percieve it does not exist. I do not have to hurry and I will never be too late. Enjoy my peace as well as my desire to see people changed.

Now of course that may not be what God would say at all, you be the judge.

22 01 2012
Kevin

Thank you. I like that.

22 01 2012
Debbie

Love this. But, I also wonder whether Kevin’s sense of, what might be called, ‘holy frustration’, and which I can relate to, too, is what stops us from becoming complacent…..??

22 01 2012
Heidi

God does have the answers, we may not see them in our lifetime though. But in the meantime we can look out for the process He works through in people. Some see results “click” just like that. Others, bit by bit. In some things, I think the latter is more awesome cos it takes hard work on the part of the person too. Keeping a prayer journal is showing me how. Psalm 63: 8 “I follow close behind you ; your strong right hand holds me securely;” What an image, our Father leading us along the safe path. I did not know the guiding hand of a real Father but this image of God is awesome.God is working His plan out.

23 01 2012
Dave Eversden

Kevin I love this.

What I love is what you have said about the small changes. I remember CS Lewis (mere christianity) “Christian Miss Bates may have an unkinder tongue than unbelieving Dick Firkin. That, by itself, does not tell us whether Christianity works. The question is what Miss Bates tongue would be like if she were not a Christian and what Dick’s would be like if he became one”.

Point is, What would some people be like without Christ. Some changes are quicker in some than others and some slower than in others. I am reminded of Malachi 3:3, He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. The silversmith stops removing the dross when he can see his own reflection in it. I think God works like that in us. When Jesus can see his own reflection in us, we are finally like him and we are both happy; BUT we wont see perfection this side of eternity, I am sure of that!

Hunger comes before food, my food said Jesus is to do the will of the Father; I think as a full time servant in the ministry, you and Jesus share the same bread; has God given you his heart for the community?….i think so; an inner hunger given by God to see people transformed….Yes. Maybe its a call to intercession? Kevin you have done an amazing job and that desire I think is from God; the Spirit of God groaning inside you for the manifistation of the greater vision that Jesus has.

Your outburst is a lovely honest prayer / cry to Jesus who has heard you and will answer.

Life comes from the Spirit of God and it will be the Spirit of God through Christ who brings the revelation of salvation through Christ to people who are slaves to drink, drugs and all that jaz. It will be the Zoe life of Christ who will bring drug conquering life to all who beleive and receive. I believe God’s word is first manifest in heaven before it is made manifest on earth (Pslam 119:89). Major community changes recorded through history have always begun with someome or a few people praying, then a few more got wind of it and began to pray until everyone was praying and then those who did not care about eternal matters, suddenly started turning up at church services.

I belived the vision is possible, not by human might but by Christ’s might!

Kevin I pray that you will have another personal encounter with Jesus that so fills you with him in a new way, that whoever you speak to or touch is touched by Christ and in some odd way is a spiritual midas touch.

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