Growing in grace produces a holistic transformation of hearts, relationships, and culture. By the power of the Gospel and the Spirit, we are transformed into people who embody the King’s mandate by the King’s means for the King’s mission.
Tendency toward Narrow Evaluations of Christian Growth
We tend to evaluate our growth narrowly and to assume progress based on a very small standard that often leaves us comfortable with our current status. Here are three examples of how our narrow and comfortable tendencies in evaluating Christian growth flesh out:
Moralists: Some overemphasize the mandate for transformation to the exclusion of the means and the mission. We know these folks as moralists whose motto is “just do it”. They fail to realize that the only faithful way to embody the mandate is to embrace the means and engage the mission.
Mystics: Some overemphasize the means for transformation to the exclusion of the mandate and mission. We know these folks as mystics whose motto is “just feel it/experience it.” They fail to realize that the only faithful way to embrace the means is to embody the mandate and engage the mission.
Militants: Some overemphasize the mission of transformation to the exclusion of the means and the mandate. We know these folks as militants whose motto is “just build it.” They fail to realize that that the only faithful way to engage in the mission is to embrace the means and embody the mandate.
Disciples: Holistic Transformation of Hearts, Relationship, and Culture
Mandate for Transformation: Where are we to aim for change?
Those who are growing in grace embody the King’s mandate for transformation. What is the mandate? Where are we to aim for change? The mandate for transformation from the King is for his servants to have heads that know, hands that serve, and hearts that love the King. Head knowledge is true only in so far as your hands are activated for the King and your heart is enflamed by the King. Heart affection is true only in so far as your head is informed by the King and your hands are activated for the King. Hand activity is true only in so far as your heart is enflamed by the King and your head is informed by the King. The gospel produces an integrated growth of head, hand, and heart in disciples of Jesus Christ.
(Scripture references showing the integration of heads, hands, and heart: Colossians 1:9-14; Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Means for Transformation: How do we aim for change?
Those who are growing in grace embrace the King’s means for transformation. What are the means? How do we aim for change? The means that enable his followers to grow are brokenness and belief through the word of God, with the people of God, and by the Spirit of God. We are not to engage God’s word, God’s Spirit, or God’s people callously as detached and disinterested observers nor as mere academic students seeking a diploma. Rather, we are to engage the means with brokenness and belief for all of life. Repentance and faith are not only the entryway for the Christian life but the pathway that you never get off until you get home. Thus, the means for vibrant repentance and faith in Jesus is the word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God. We need to engage all three in brokenness and belief so that we might change and become people that embody the mandate and engage the mission.
(Scripture references: Brokenness and belief through the Word of God – 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12-13, 2 Peter 1:19-21; Brokenness and belief by the Spirit of God – John 16:8-11, Romans 8:9-11, Galatians 3:2-3; Brokenness and belief with the people of God – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Hebrews 10:23-25)
Mission of Transformation: Why do we aim for change?
Those who are growing in grace engage the King’s mission of transformation. What is the mission? Why do we aim for change? The King’s mission is clearly seen in the Lord’s Prayer. His mission is that his followers would give their lives so that his name is honored (Hallowed be your name), his Kingdom comes (Your Kingdom come), and his will is done in every area of life on earth as it is heaven (your will be done). The mission of the church of Jesus Christ is to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in every place, every nation, and every people. We are not simply waiting to leave earth and go up to heaven. Instead, we are seeking to bring heaven down to earth in every heart, relationship, and throughout the culture of our city, nation, and world. We bring heaven down to earth when we seek his glory and not our own in all things, when we pursue his kingdom advancement rather than our own empire advancement among all peoples and places, and when we seek his will rather than our own will in every area of life.
(Scripture references: God’s glory – Matthew 6:9, Romans 11:33-36, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Timothy 1:17; God’s Kingdom – Matthew 6:9, Matthew 6:33, Mark 1:14-15, Colossians 1:13-14; God’s Will – Psalm 143:10, Matthew 6:10, Matthew 26.39, Romans 12:1-2)