Among the favourite Reality TV shows are those featuring the complete transformation of a derelict building into a stunning house, or a drab interior into a beautiful living area. It is fascinating to watch an idea become a reality, but whatever the improvements to structure the simple truth is it does not take place without costs and only love can transform a building, however attractive, into a home.
Transformation is a major element in the opening chapter of the bible with God’s first incarnation in creation. All that is came into being out of the darkness and chaos by God, through his love, revealing something of himself; ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen’ (Rom.1:20) however long that process took its purpose was to reveal something of the Divine in everything brought into being, from the single cell to the complex creature.
The process of transformation continued when God chose a slave people to become his by forming them into a nation whose purpose was to be a light through which God’s nature would be seen. God worked through ordinary people with all their limitations. Patriarch, priest and prophet all played a role in this mission and when it failed, despite years of grace and mercy being shown to them, a second incarnation took place when God humbled himself into a sperm embedded in Mary’s womb to become Jesus – the full revelation of his love in human form.
Choosing twelve to be with him Jesus spent his entire life in a mission of transformation – he appealed to the religious authorities who misunderstood him, breaking the regulations they had imposed in order to include everyone, reaching out in mercy and compassion to leper, foreigner, prostitute, outcast, lame and blind with his transforming touch. His combination of the love of God with love of neighbour was the life-changer some could not accept. His supreme sacrifice to transform the darkness within us into light, our hate into love, took place at Calvary where nothing could change his love for everyone, even those who killed him. The cross reveals the cost of the transformation he came to initiate.
Those who accepted his invitation to follow him he commissioned to continue his ministry to the ends of the world promising the power of His Spirit to do so – thus the church was born at Pentecost. Initially this initiative to transform lives energized the church to spread to other regions establishing colonies of changed lives. Eventually this incentive to change lives was submerged or underwent a change of motive itself and the church sadly lost its direction drifting into doctrine, ritual, power structures and exclusivism. History records various endeavours to recover the original purpose through evangelism, missionary outreach, and in-house movements. It continues today as God works with anyone who will open themselves to his word.
Transformation not indoctrination, or education, relationships not rituals, an inner realization not outward conformity, unity not individualism, union not separation, reconciliation not rejection, inclusiveness not exclusiveness are the church’s mandate for our polarized, fragmented society today. None of us would deny the transformation of society involves government and politics. We search desperately today for transformations that would cleanse our society and all government departments of the social evils and shameless, despicable conduct. There are many who have laid their life on the line to bring about a moral transformation. This need also has global dimensions as we witness the polarities and tensions that exist between nation and nation. Yet another dimension is added with global warming and the ecological disasters resulting from human neglect. In his unmerited and unlimited grace God unceasingly energizes the process of renewal throughout the universe.
From the moment of our birth we begin a process of transformation – infancy to childhood, adolescence to adult. Innocence and ignorance to knowledge and understanding. As we grow older we learn there is that within us which needs to change. Transformation is dependent on an inner realization of our need of God; followed by a willingness to yield ourselves to the Spirit’s promptings, whatever the cost, and re-evaluate our relationships, values, attitudes, desires, decisions, priorities and past errors, learning to forgive ourselves as we learn to forgive others and live with others. His purpose in the world and within ourselves is to bring into being a new creation (Ro.8:22), 2 Cor.5:17). His work of grace within us is to bring us to the maturity we see in Jesus through the process of transformation and union with him (not personal achievement) whereby we are turned into what he wants us to be in every aspect of our daily life. Transformation is the churches reason for being and the purpose of all its activities.