We are looking at six aspects of transformation as part of the Christian walk with Christ. Our third component may be the most challenging. That’s because the work of transformation in the life of Christians is an utterly selfless work. If it’s the work of Holy Spirit it will always have one primary focus – the glorification of Christ in every area of our lives. Our transformation is not a self-help process, but it does require our participation. As Jim and Molly Davis Scott remind us, “The point is that we participate in the decision to move away from self-centered to God-centered. It is arguably the most important decision we will ever make.”[i]
This participation in the move to God-centeredness is not about self-actualization or self-improvement. In an age dominated by secular humanism, which places the improvement of each individual above all else in the quest for purpose in life, the Christian understanding of transformation is radical. For our transformation is marked through and through by a call to absolute Lordship. We must not miss the counter-cultural nature of this core teaching. Consider these two quotes:
“Human life has meaning because we create and develop our own futures. Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now.”[ii]
“Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:1-2, 10)
These two worldviews cannot be combined, commingled or reconciled. They are an absolute antithesis to one another. We must resist at every turn the temptation to allow some accommodation to Humanism to infiltrate our work. The transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the godly steward is radical and complete, and it leads to a selflessness that runs counter to the core of humanistic teachings and ethics. You cannot ‘put to death the earthly nature’ and ‘strive for the good life here and now’. We cannot be driven to ‘create and develop our own futures’ if our lives are ‘hidden with Christ in God’. And our transformation cannot produce in us both ‘the creative realization of human needs and desires’ and also a ‘putting on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator’.
Stewardship has been described and defined in a number of ways. However, in the end, godly stewardship is all about Lordship. Before it is about money, tithing or time, it is about Lordship. Our transformation has a direction and goal. That goal is a Christ-likeness that calls us to complete and absolute obedience to God in Christ.
This blog is excerpted from the upcoming book, The Calling to Christian Leadership: Foundations and Practices, Edited by John S. (Jack) Burns, John R. Shoup, and Donald C. Simmons, Jr. Submitted for publication in 2014.