I shared with you a few weeks ago the story of Joe and I want to share with you today how God used Joe and the family that took him into their home to reveal an important truth to me. As I watched Joe’s transformation taking place it hit me like a ton of bricks as I realized that when Joe was at the church building with us we cared about the spiritual condition of his soul, but we failed to acknowledge or address other struggles he was dealing with on a daily basis. We accepted and welcomed Joe into our Jesus community. We treated him like we would any other person, and for the record I am very proud of the people of Trinity Church for how they treated Joe. However, we were content to watch him walk out the doors of the church building to go back to the homeless lifestyle he was living. By doing this what message were we really communicating? It sounds harsh but I feel the answer is; “we care about a person’s spiritual well being and not so much any other area of life you may be struggling with.” This is what makes me angry with myself, because this is not acceptable. This is not what being the Church and being a follower of Christ is about. This is not what the Gospel—which means “good news”—is about. The Good News is good news in all aspects of life not just spiritual.
I wonder what a person really things about Jesus when people who claim to be His followers bend over backwards stressing the importance of a person’s conversion, all the while watching them walk out the door of our church buildings to walk back into the hell that is their life. All of this lead me to dig deeper into the question, “Is the transformation that God has for people singular in nature—as in only spiritual—or is it a holistic transformation that encompasses the entire person?” I did not just draw a conclusion on what I thought the answer would be. I turned to what was modeled for us by Jesus and his first disciples. My time in prayer and study of the Scriptures of Jesus’ ministry and the early church has lead me to conclude that the transformation people experienced when coming into contact with Jesus is a transformation that flipped their entire life right side up.
What we see in the Gospels is that there are times when Jesus forgives the sins of a person and then heals him or her from some physical aliment. When Jesus forgave their sins He was transforming their spiritual life, and then when He healed them He in effect transformed their social, psychological, and economic parts of their lives as well. There are other times when Jesus heals people but there is no mention of sins being forgiven. In some instances of this there are times when the healing transformed the person’s social, psychological, and economic life with no spiritual transformation being mentioned. However, there are also instances when a person was healed bringing social, psychological, and economic transformation and those aspects being transformed lead to the person having a spiritual transformation.
So what does all this mean? It means the church’s job is not complete once a spiritual transformation takes place. It means spiritual transformation is not the only form of ministry that we are called to do as followers of Christ. Jesus models for us a ministry that deals with the whole person not just a singular aspect of a person’s life. So my question for you is; as churches and followers of Christ, do we only seek conversion/spiritual transformation or are we seeking the transformation that Jesus models for us that encompasses the whole life of the individual?