Transformation, Part 1, Introduction
This message is the first in our new series called “Transformation – How God Changes Us”. This series will give you the foundation, training plan and tools you need to grow into all that God has for you to be. You should expect to come to life like never before!
Transformation Series Part 1
How God Changes Us
Dave Spooner – Mosaic Rockford – Oct. 4th, 2015
- Starting are new series – Transformation – how God changes us – 8 weeks
- Putting these practices into your life will transform you to greater fruitfulness and to become more alive and more like Christ . . . .
- This morning we are going to set the foundation for transformation and then in the weeks to follow we will be looking at the practices of slowing down, prayer, receiving guidance from God, scripture, service, celebration and thankfulness.
- Digging Deeper Resources
- The Life You’ve Always Wanted – spiritual disciplines for ordinary people by John Ortberg
- The Spirit of the Disciplines – understanding how God changes lives by Dallas Willard
- The Celebration of Discipline – the path to spiritual growth by Richard Foster
The Hope of Transformation
- It is offered to us everywhere. We all want to be transformed. The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart. This is why people enter therapy, join health clubs get into recovery groups, read self-help books, attend motivation seminars, and make New Year’s resolutions. The possibility of transformation is the essence of hope . . .
- The number one transforming agent is the Holy Spirit . . .
Rom 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
- Transform – metamorphoo – metamorphosis – caterpillar into a butterfly. This is one thing becoming another thing. When morphing happens, I don’t just do the things Jesus would have done; I find myself wanting to do them. They appeal to me. They make sense. I don’t just go around trying to do right things; I become the right sort of person.
- The primary goal of spiritual life is human transformation. It is not making sure people know there they’re going after they die, or helping them have a richer interior life, or seeing that they have lots of information about the Bible, although these can be can be good things. The first goal of spiritual life is reclaiming the human race.
The Goal of Spiritual Life
Rom 8:29 (NIV)
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
- The goal of our spiritual life is to progressively become more like Jesus . . . more compassionate, joyful, gracious, winsome . . . we don’t change into Jesus – but we change to be like Jesus
- If we don’t experience authentic transformation we settle for pseudo-transformation. We know that as Christians we are called to “come out and be separate,” that our faith and spiritual commitment should make us different somehow. But if we are not marked by greater and greater amounts of love and joy, we will inevitably look for substitute ways of distinguishing ourselves from those who are not Christians. If we do not become changed from the inside out – if we don’t morph – we will be tempted to find external methods to satisfy our need to feel that we’re different from those outside the faith. If we cannot be transformed, we will settle for being informed or conformed. We become religious Pharisees . . . this is what I was talking about last week – external rules verses internal transformation.
Gal 6:15-16 (NLV)
It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.
- Spirituality focused on what is included vs what is excluded . . . . Love God and Love People . . . this is the center, this the heart of spiritual life. This is what Jesus taught and lived
- Paul also illustrated this this in the “love chapter” – listing a list of spiritual markers which lacked a center –
1 Cor 13:1-3 (HCSB)
If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
- This is the essence of whitewashed tombs. The hollow Christian life – if you don’t have substance all you have is appearance – the Pharisees then and the Pharisees now continue to focus on these things. This is why they were continually confronting Jesus about how to interpret the law. Paul called this in 2 Tim 3:5 “having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
- A boundary oriented approach to spirituality focuses on people’s position: Are you inside or outside the group. But Jesus consistently focused on people’s center: Are they oriented and moving toward the center of spiritual life (love of God and people), or are they moving away from it? And this is why Jesus could say that “the tax collectors and the prostitutes” who were a million miles away from the religious subculture, but who had turned, converted and oriented themselves toward God and love, were already in the kingdom. This was the great irony of his day: The “righteous” were more damaged by their righteousness than the sinners were by their sin.
- Dallas Willard writes, “How many people are radically and permanently repelled from The Way by Christians who are unfeeling, stiff, unapproachable, boringly lifeless, obsessive, and dissatisfied? Yet such Christians are everywhere, and what they are missing is the wholesome liveliness springing from a balanced vitality which the freedom of God’s loving rule . . . Spirituality wrongly understood or pursued is a major source of human misery and rebellion against God.
- Questions for spiritual self-diagnosis
- Am I spiritually “inauthentic”? – I work harder at making people think I’m a loving person than I do at actually loving them.
- Am I becoming judgmental or exclusive or proud? – Pride is a potential problem for anyone who takes spiritual growth seriously. As soon as we start to pursue virtue, we begin to wonder why others aren’t as virtuous as we are.
- Am I become more approachable or less? – Jesus has a kind of differentness that drew people to him.
- Am I growing weary of pursuing spiritual growth? – Devotion to observing all the “rules” and yet never opening the heart to love or joy.
- Am I measuring my spiritual life in superficial ways? . . . The real issue is what kind of people we are becoming not what things we are doing . . .
The Truth about Spiritual Disciplines
- There is an immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something. (Ill. about marathon) Spiritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely.
1 Tim 4:7b-8 (NIV)
Train yourself to be godly. 8 Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.
- Athletics – if you want to succeed you don’t just try really hard – you train really hard. So we need to enter into a life of training.
- Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the spirit. The traditional term for such activities is “spiritual disciplines”.
- Before we talk about what they are, we need to talk about what they are not
- Spiritual disciplines are not a barometer of spirituality. God does not measure spiritual performance of the basis of certain disciplines. The true indicator of spiritual well-being is growth in the ability to love God and people.
- Spiritual disciplines are not necessarily unpleasant. Many of us go the impression somewhere that for an activity to count as a spiritual discipline, it must be something we would rather not do. However, if we are in training for a life characterized by joy, peace, and affections, we would assume that some of the practices are going to be downright enjoyable.
- Spiritual disciplines are not a way to earn favor with God. Spiritual disciplines are not about trying to be good enough to merit God’s forgiveness and goodwill. They are not ways to get extra credit, or to demonstrate to God how deeply we ae committed to him they exist for our sake, not God’s. They have value only insofar as they help us transform. Spiritual disciplines are simply a means of appropriating or growing toward the life that God graciously offers.
- A few Key Questions
- What makes something a discipline? Any activity I can do by direct effort that will help me do what I cannot now do by direct effort. People will sometimes speak of the discipline of humility or the discipline of patience. Strictly speaking, such things are not really disciplines; they are the objects of the disciplines, the things we want to acquire through the disciplines. Disciplines are valuable simply because they allow us to do what we cannot do by willpower alone.
- What makes something a spiritual discipline? Any activity that can help me gain power in live life as Jesus taught and modeled it.
- What is a disciplined person? A disciplined person is someone who can do the right thing at the right time in the right way with the right spirit. A disciplined follower of Jesus is someone who discerns when laughter, gentleness, silence, healing words, or prophetic indignation is called for, and offers it promptly, effectively, and lovingly.
- Signs of wise spiritual training
- Wise training respects the freedom of the Spirit. It is like a sailboat vs a motorboat. Our task is to do whatever enables us to catch the wind. Spiritual transformation is that way. We may be aggressively pursuing it, but we cannot turn it on and off. We can open ourselves to transformation through certain practices, but we cannot engineer it. We can take credit for setting the sails but not providing the wind. Spiritual growth requires discernment. God’s responsibility is to provide the burning bush. Our responsibility is to turn aside. Our primary task is not to calculate how many verses of Scripture we read or how many minutes we spend in prayer. Our task is to use these activities to create opportunities for God to work.
- Wise training respects our unique temperament and gifts.
- Wise training will take into account our season of life.
- Wise training respects the inevitability of troughs and peaks.
- Wise training begins with a clear decision.
- Next week we will focus on slowing down . . . . and then we will move into other training areas of prayer, receiving guidance from God, scripture, service, celebration and thankfulness.
- If you put these training areas into practice you will see transformation in your life . . .
- Now again – focus on the area(s) that the Lord touches your heart with and guides you to . . .
- Make it your goal to be more like Christ – let’s focus on what really matters
- Truthfully answer the self-assessment questions
- Choose to train
- Prayer People