Tonight after a long and weary day my wife and I made our way back to our room in a brand new hotel. We have the habit of climbing stairs whenever we can just for the exercise. But tonight, being so tired, we made our way across the lobby and headed straight for the elevator. There we met a sign that caused us to cock our heads to the side, “pardon the inconvenience the elevator is under renewal.” There beside the elevator was a repair man up to his elbows in wires, cables and gears.
“Under renewal?” Curious language. It sounds like the words of a politician. The truth of the matter is that the elevator is broken. It’s under repair. Renewal is a stretch. How do you renew an elevator in a brand new hotel? It’s already new. The truth is it’s flat out broken. Why do we have such difficulty calling things for what they are?
You know where this is going. Human beings don’t simply need renewal. We are flat out broken and in need of a major overhaul. It’s called transformation. But we are so hesitant to use the grand term transformation. Renewal or self-improvement sounds a lot better. Less offensive. Less invasive. But perhaps that’s the rub. Maybe the self needs to be offended; maybe even put to death. Maybe the pride of self and its choices are at the core of the problem. Maybe the self needs an invasive procedure.
To be fair, there are certain things we can do improve and renew by ourselves. We can make time, exercise, and communication adjustments to become a more effective and productive human beings. Behavior modification is all about this. But for major transactions of the soul, we need help from outside.
Christianity is just that–help from outside. From creation to incarnation to salvation to final redemption, our is a story about a transcendent God who from outside stepped into our story to transform us. Ours is an alien wholeness where God’s nature, will and power come to us, initiate and maintain our transformation. Although our cooperation is vital (which I will begin to describe in my next blog), transformation begins as a holy invasion of the kingdom of God. We are helpless to transform ourselves significantly. Ours is an Alien Wholeness (Helmut Thielecke). This is the uniqueness of Christian wholeness.
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