Human zeal, education and sincerity had proved woefully inadequate for the apostolic task of bringing down strongholds and establishing the life of God Country in Christophobic
No, something more was needed. Something more was required.
That ‘something more’ soon presented itself as sweeping TRANSFORMATION rather than simple CHANGE.
Change requires sincere personal commitment, additional training conferences, conflict management seminars, confessional counseling sessions, improved management techniques, enhanced spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, devotional reading, tithing), et al.
Tweaking the existing order of things – pursuing self-improvement – managing pain – improving efficiency – increasing productivity – all within socially acceptable parameters.
But transformation…ah…transformation. That’s something different – threatening – non-PC.
George Barna has documented that a high percentage of Americans – when they realize what the next stage of spiritual development requires – simply won’t play. They ‘disappear’ or ‘settle down’ into predictable religious activities rather than move ahead – push through. (Maximum Faith, p. 21)
True spiritual transformation requires willingness and courage to trade what you now possess for what God is offering. Take the risk. Pay the price. Make the exchange.
For the Jew it means acknowledging THE Messiah has already come in Jesus of Nazareth and is still spiritually available as the resurrected Christ.
For the Muslim it means admitting Jesus to be more than an Islamic Prophet, but also THE High Priest of the People of God — THE King of Creation – THE Second persona of the Triune God — THE Son of Bible-GOD.
For the Wiccan it means trading in comfortable Darkness for exposure in the The Light.
For the non-Charismatic Christian it means moving from an intellectual belief in Triune GOD to a functional lifestyle reflecting the present, vibrant Third Person of that Trinity.
For Christian religious professionals, this latter TRANSFORMATION commonly turns out to be a corporate-culture deal-breaker: relationally, vocationally and financially.
In my church tradition the line was clearly drawn between those who do and those who don’t – speak in tongues, that is. In that world view, there really was no third choice.
One such as myself must eventually choose (or not) to actively (rather than passively) function in the spiritual gifts – openly (rather than discretely) embrace the fullness of the Holy Spirit – proactively seek a transformed spiritual life (rather than play it safe with incremental change).
My freshman year of college I ‘sold out to Jesus’. I gave myself to Him as a blank check and agreed to agree in advance with however He chose to ‘spend’ me.
Now, years later within my inherited religious world, zeal, education and sincerity were not working. I was grounded. Exhausted. Marginalized. And most distressingly, I was as far from doing the Luke 4 ministry of Jesus as I had ever been.
“I’m not revoking my earlier commitment,” I said to God with determination, “but I am NOT going to continue doing what I have been doing. Not for one more day.”
I reminded Him that I had objected to ‘surrendering’ to this type of ministry from the beginning, but had done so becuase I understood this was what he required of me. I had no idea what His response would be to my declaration, but I was too tired to calculate. I was finished.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for you to get to this place,” he responded cheerfully. “Now let me show you something much better.”
The suggestion of a Divine plan ready to be put into effect constituted for me a hopeful response. I could go with this. I – and we — did.
I spent the next few months cooperating with God as He turned on the lights in the dark places of my soul. Half a year of healing as God created within me a clean heart. A blessed season enjoying closeness with God.
Then the day of transformation arrived.
A quiet place. A sincere prayer. A brief wait. Then Romans 7 transformed into Romans 8. Flesh transformed into Spirit. DC battery power into infinite God-power. Loneliness into habitation. Human talent into spiritual gifts. Human effort into a Sabbath rest. Determination into discernment. Discouragement into delight. Hopefulness into HOPE itself.
The breadth of that sweeping transformation opened the door to new worlds of intimate prayer, vaulted worship, ministry competence, personal wholeness, fresh relationships, and the daily adventure of ‘hanging out’ with friend Jesus.
We no longer fit – we had crossed the line – burned our bridges – moved outside the gate — accepted vulnerability and exposure. We were starting over jobless and penniless.
We took stock.
What was needed – it seemed so obvious — was to get up to speed in a whole new way of doing things. We needed to enroll in a high quality ‘School of the Holy Spirit’. But where to find the best equipping kindergarten? And how to get there?
And, oh yes, how to survive long enough to make the transition to a God-transformed life?
One thing was certain — and that one thing greatly energized me: the door to learning how to do the ministry of Jesus seemed to be opening in front of us. We were determined to crowd through it as if this were the only time it would ever open to us. That was much settled.
So how do you start over?
Continued in Part 4 –Blog 9.