Tag Archives: sin

Defining Transformation

I have described my understanding of “transformation” in an earlier post. This post is a brief description from a slightly different perspective for a secular audience, and a brief description for a Christian audience.

First description…Transformation is change in the deepest part of one’s being that puts loving Creator of all universes and every neighbor, known and unknown, at the center of one’s worldview.

Personal Transformation is initiated by the Creator of all universes. Engaging in transformation involves:

  • Becoming aware of how my beliefs, attitudes, ways I interact with others are harmful to facilitating transformation in others.
  • Replacing obstructive practices with non-obstructive ones. Typically this will require dependence on the Creator for guidance and strength to sustain various changes in beliefs, attitudes and practices. A Spiritual Director can help with this.
  • Taking care of my own sets of needs for the purpose of being better prepared to enable and encourage transformation in others (putting on their new self and living out of it minute by minute).

Second description…Transformation is much more than change. Transformation is profound holistic change at the root of being. A transformed person is sustained by kingdom values. A transformed society is sustained by kingdom values. Any individual or social change that does not involve living by kingdom values is not transformation.

One outcome of Transformation is more clarity on one’s true vocation as children of God. That vocation is to be more loving and just in their relationships with self, with each other, with the community, with God, and with their environment.

Another outcome is willingness to confront evil in their personal lives and in the community. Suffering that restores right relationships is an integral part of transformational development; Jesus on the cross is an essential image for understanding transformational development.

Transformation turns you inside out; outside in

Meditate on Ephesians 4:17-28

This is a message I spoke to community development staff in Uganda in November 1998.

As an evaluator I search for truth. As a facilitator I help others search for truth, accept truth, live by truth.

In searching for truth, you need to watch out for lies, especially clever lies. In the restaurant at Laston Hotel in Masaka there is a poster that says:

Pilsner Lager
Extra Strong
It’s got what you want

This poster tells a lie. A lie that is believed as true by many. Those who live by this lie cause harm and destruction to others and themselves. In my own family I have seen the harm and destruction that addiction to alcohol can cause. If this poster were to tell the truth, it might look like this:

Pilsner Lager
Extra Strong
If you want to cause harm and destruction to yourself and others,
It’s got what you want

Now hear the word of the Lord: Ephesians 4:17-28

Verse 28 describes the fundamental indicator for transformational development. The person who steals is to stop stealing. Not only that, the person is to produce useful things with his or her own hands, that he or she might share them with others. This is transformation, from stealing to gratify the self, to being productive on behalf of others.

This passage describes the key to planning development programs that are transformational, not just enhancements to living in the world. This passage describes the key to planning programs that will inspire hope for those who are in despair. It describes the key to bringing joy to those who are in very difficult circumstances. Transformational development is based on the truth as it is taught by Jesus.

To understand the truth that is in Jesus, we need to face the fact that each and every one of us in a sinner. As told in the early chapters of Genesis, we have inherited the tendency to act as if we are God rather than being a child of God. God, the omnipotent, loving Creator of all there is, was, and ever will be, allowed us the freedom to disobey, while longing deeply that we would not disobey. But we did, and so we are sinners.

The truth that is in Jesus is that God, through boundless grace, invites us as sinners to be in His presence as forgiven sinners. If we accept this invitation, if we turn our backs on the deceitful ways of the world, we can live in God’s emerging kingdom right now. Cleansed, purified, made new in attitudes of mind, free to put on a new self, free to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Free to stop stealing, free to work with our hands to make something useful so that we can share it with others. Free to turn inside out and outside in, free to say “no” to the lies all around us, free to live by the truth that is in Jesus