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Dick Staub, one of today’s most experienced and thoughtful observers of how faith works in contemporary culture, clearly articulates the dynamic of transformation. “Being transformed is more important than transforming culture. I hear a lot of Christians talking about cultural transformation and our culture needs to be transformed.”
“There was a time when I wanted to change the world, now, I am content to simply ask God to change me. Jesus commanded his disciples to go into the world and make disciples. However, I’ve noticed that many mission-driven, transform-the-world types are passionate about making a difference in the world and in effecting change in other people’s lives, but often fail to invest the same energy in transforming their own lives. When we operate this way, we become missional workaholics, who often fail to experience the loving, transforming presence of God. We become more focused on our activities done on behalf of God than on God Himself.”
“The late Rich Mullins was once singing at a citywide youth rally and one of the pastors said: ‘We need to tell these kids about Jesus so that they’ll stop getting pregnant, stop doing drugs and doing all these bad things. ‘Rich’s immediate thought was: ‘Wow, we need to tell these kids about Jesus, because Jesus wants them to know him and experience his love. It has nothing to do with changing their conduct. It has to do with God desperately wanting us to know that He loves us. ‘Rich knew God cared about the way teens are wasting their lives in riotous living. But he also knew that it’s only God’s loving presence that brings transformation. It’s really important to recognize that God’s first priority is changing us!”
My life has been terminally bent to change the world (outreach), rather than to focus on my personal transformation (in-reach). I so wanted to do something great for Jesus and spent most of my life exhausting myself working for God in an advisory capacity. No matter what, my end-game was to change the world; it wasn’t to be transformed by God. I didn’t take the time to focus on allowing God to change my heart, because I was too busy saving the world.
Jesus spent most of his teachings and practice emphasizing how important a personal relationship was with him, but I missed that step. He described it when he spoke of us being the branches that must remain attached to him, the vine, by us being the sheep who hear, know his voice, and follow him, by partaking personally of Jesus, the bread of life, by us being the followers of Jesus being the light of the world, by us following Jesus personally as the way, truth, and life, and by us believing that Jesus is personally the resurrection and the life. To Jesus, it was always personal. I never did get that, until I met Jesus personally. He apprehended my heart and transformed my heart. This is why the new Jesus curriculum leads with personal transformation. Nothing else matters! THE WAY Volume I: PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION.