There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability;
there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community. - M. Scott Peck

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Transformation and Battles

Our group branched in two directions at a recent meeting. First, the message took me down the path of transformation. A Christ follower’s goal is to transform of our lives. And yet, on our own, that real life transformation is very improbable. Fortunately, the transformation of each of our hearts and minds and lives is our God’s fervent desire, loving focus and unending task. No matter what we do, that remains a constant – God is always at work in us for the transformation of our lives. Our part of the relationship is to open ourselves to God’s work in us and position ourselves in relation to God for that good work to be accomplished and not thwarted.
God’s transformation of our lives is not a passive thing that we sit around waiting for. We have a major, active role in the work God is trying to accomplish in us. Somewhere I heard that I’m responsible for the inputs (all the things I do that deepen my relationship with God) and God is responsible for the output (my transformed life). It was comforting to sit with the thought for a while that the God of the Universe is constantly working on my transformation.
The second branch of the evening was less comforting. As we discussed the message, guys talked about what was going on in their lives and what needed to change - persistent depression that doesn’t seem to be getting better despite all the right stuff being done to cope with it, a lack of motivation at work that continues despite the financial fears it generates, the lingering burden of work and home worries that continually drain energy and enthusiasm, the untimely death of an elementary school child and the death of a 36 year old veteran of three wars who was just turning the corner on his addiction. Difficult stuff.
And I was struck with the thought – this group of men is under attack. (Now this is a John Eldredge thing and can seem a bit goofy, but I’ve become a believer.) We talked about God and we talked about ourselves. But I felt the real presence of the third player on this stage – the Devil, Satan, the Evil One. I’m not sure what the comfortable term for this evil player is, but his presence was real. He had a real hand in fostering the levels of depression, lack of motivation, and questioning of God that was in the room.
The bad news is this evil force can worsen and deepen all the negative things that push us away from God and his work to transform us if we let it. The good news is that this evil force becomes most active in situations where people are moving closer to God, where transformation of lives is taking place. I believe transformation can take place in Small Groups. I believe that transformation is taking place in the lives of the guys in our group. The battle is real for all of us all of the time. I’m blessed to have a band of brothers to battle with me.

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