« Previous   |   Main   |   Next »

Transformation and Mission

css template
L-R: Yolanda, Alejandro, Omar, Dion and Naty (leaders of the church home group), Anabel

Jesus Did What Only Jesus Can Do

Last month Janice and I had the privilege of attending a special wedding. Weddings are always special, but this one was extra special.

It wasn’t extra special because it was in June, of course, since June is the most popular month for weddings.

It wasn’t extra special because the service itself was perfect. It was supposed to happen in a beautiful park, but unfortunately it rained—really hard!—right when the wedding was supposed to start. Most of us got thoroughly soaked, and since the storm was in no hurry to move on, we ended up moving on. The reception hall did double duty that night.

It wasn’t extra special because it was the wedding of a close relative. We’d probably have to go back hundreds if not thousands of years to find a common ancestor with this couple. The bride and groom were from Mexico, and we’ve only known them for a little over a year.

And it wasn’t even extra special because it was a wedding that exposed us to the cultural traditions of Mexico, though it was a treat to experience wedding customs that are quite different from those we are used to.

What made this wedding extra special was the transformation that it represented. A year or so ago when we first met them at a gathering of our church, Omar and Anabel had been partners for years already. They had three beautiful children, the oldest of whom is in middle school. We could tell by their countenances that all was not well, but at the time, we had no idea how bad things were.

Omar is a coworker of Alejandro, a brother in our church whose own life has been transformed by Jesus in recent years. Because of Alejandro’s growing relationship with Jesus, he was able to promise the same possibility to Omar as they shared with each other along the way.

Alejandro and Omar talked a lot at work, but Alejandro and his wife Yolanda also opened their home to Omar and Anabel. They had many late night discussions, sometimes with Omar, sometimes with Anabel, eventually with both. At that time, it looked like Omar and Anabel’s relationship was nearly irreparable. But, Alejandro and Yolanda kept pointing Omar and Anabel to scripture, to Jesus.

And guess what? Jesus did what only Jesus can do. Transformation happened!

"We began to see it in their eyes. Now there was hope and light… We’ve watched Omar and Anabel be changed into new people."We began to see it in their eyes. Now there was hope and light. They came to realize that God wanted them to make the commitment of marriage to one another, for life. Anabel eventually expressed her desire for adult baptism, but Omar wasn’t ready yet. Two weeks before the wedding we were overjoyed when Omar told the church that he was now ready to be baptized. The following Sunday we baptized them both in Big Darby Creek, and six days later they were married.

In Romans 12, Paul writes: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT).

We’ve watched Omar and Anabel be changed into new people. They’re thinking differently than they used to. They’ve learned to know more of God’s will, and they’re responding to him in obedience. More and more, they’re choosing to not copy the behavior and customs of this world.

How does missions relate to this transformation? It seems to me that missions relates to transformation in a cyclical, cause and effect sort of way. As our lives are transformed, our actions and our words change. Like Alejandro did, we take (and sometimes make) opportunities to introduce Jesus to those around us. As those people respond out of their own transformation, they become tools in the hands of God to bring transformation to others. And on and on it goes.

That’s why Jesus came, and it’s what he invites us to join him in. We’re inviting the nations to worship Jesus and be transformed by him because we’ve accepted his invitation to us and are being transformed ourselves. That’s missions.