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In 1986, moviegoers were introduced to the Transformers.
Adults and children alike were fascinated and entertained by characters like Optimus Prime, who “transformed” from an 18-wheeler truck into a robot capable of standing, fighting and talking.
In Acts 6, the apostles began transforming an exclusive club of Jewish Christians into a more bustling and robust group, by first ministering to Jewish Christians with Greek backgrounds. It was a small step but one that eventually led to “Jews Only” signs being removed in Acts 10. Unfair treatment of those not born of a “certain heritage” ended.
The church needs transformative leaders who can think introspectively and clearly weigh the pros and cons and then muster the courage to facilitate transformation.
In Acts 6, two distinct ethnic groups of widows both felt that they were receiving unfair treatment, and their dissension was tearing the church apart. The call went out to the apostles to settle the matter.
These young church leaders assessed the problem and devised a solution. They installed spiritual men from both groups to manage the situation. We never hear of the matter again because the apostles were successful at facilitating transformation. They were catalysts in turning an exclusive ethnic-oriented club into a movement that would now be characterized by faith, love and fellowship (John 13:34-35, Acts 2:42-47).
Every generation has transformative moments. The way those in charge handle the moment makes the difference between the group behaving like an exclusive club in which everyone looks the same versus an ethnically and culturally balanced organization that is comprised of different ethnicities and socioeconomic classes and various professions.
The church needs transformative leaders who can think introspectively and clearly weigh the pros and cons and then muster the courage to facilitate transformation. We have too many who want to cling to the status quo, keeping the signs up and the people who look different far away. These brothers and sisters fight to maintain our exclusivity and separateness versus fighting to bring in dissimilar people. God needs a common fellowship in which we cease being divisive and start being authentically joined together (1 Corinthians 11:17-30, Ephesians 4:16).
The Gospel was not designed to keep us comfortable and stale.
Considering all that has happened over the past year, will we rise to the occasion, as the apostles did, and think creatively about how we can better reflect our cities and communities? For far too long we have resisted challenging ourselves to reach across the aisle and bond with all men irrespective of their political ideology or physical address. Some of us work to keep things “pure” when “pure” as we are defining it has no resemblance to the Gospel that we read about in Scripture (Galatians 1:6-7).
Genuine transformation is not easy. Even Peter fumbled the ball in Galatia. Not wanting to anger the Judaizers who had come from Jerusalem, he acted like a hypocrite (Galatians 2:12). Paul therefore withstood him to his face (Galatians 2:11), demanding that he reflect the true nature of the Gospel and the tenets of the Christian movement. In this sense, Paul was transformative, refusing to allow Peter to make the Gospel what it was not.
We need more leaders like Paul today: men and women who will seize this current tumultuous moment and look for ways that we can use the civil and societal unrest to channel a spiritual community not defined by exclusive signs but by an exclusive faith, a transformative faith.
Optimus Prime was the leader of the Transformers. He had several memorable quotes. Perhaps the most memorable is: “Autobots, transform and roll out!” It was a call to action and service. It was a call to slay the evil before the Autobots because the future of the world rested on their resolve.
Let us do the same. Let us take the transformational elements of the Gospel to a world that has lost its way.
The Gospel was not designed to keep us comfortable and stale. The Gospel, by its very nature, is metamorphic and life-changing. If this is not our reality, perhaps we need to look at our gospel. May we all have the courage and willingness to transform.
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