This earth daily fills with Christian spiritual navigation so that Jesus’ transformation may be found.
This is a terrifying notion that spiritual transformation requires our involvement and effort*
As many as there are stars in the sky, there are Christian stars on earth who write guides that want me to engage the living Jesus in a better manner.
These stars are really some popular Christian authors who sell so well, I must believe they are correct. He who set the earth on its axis and flung stars into space can be found through 'their sequential formulae', they promise. Their intentions are pure, that each Christian may attain a nirvana of Christ-likeness; yet I wonder if such efforts are hollow?
I am weary of these guides.
Each spiritual navigator offers a select path to 'transformation' that suffers its own nuance. They chorus:
Jesus is found in relationships.
Jesus is found in the collectives of His followers.
His presence is upon all my conversations.
He engages me through my obedience.
He especially can be found in my service, or as I once preposterously heard -- Jesus can be found at the landfill.
But, I have endured many a conversation where I 'missed' Jesus, never saw Him turn up at meetings (disunity is a good guide there), and my disobedience sure hindered His presence. If it was up to my obedience to be transformed, Woe is me!
From this earth-bound spiritual navigation, God then is expected to drip delicious spiritual snacks to nourish my soul and give me a missional heart that won’t rest until it finds a transformational church. The Passion of Calvary will then seep deep into my soul and world-weary heart, as it draws from me new heaven-inspired tears for the lost, the least, the last and the lonely.
By now I have been educated well beyond my ability to obey. Guilt-ridden, I fossick through these spiritual navigators for that elusive 'gold'. When found this ‘gold’ will be the undefined treasure that assuages my guilt. It will finally usher me into a transformational relationship with Him who decides the speed that the Earth's axis will spin. This is the Jesus that the transformational gurus and the spiritual navigators know, and I feel so guilty that I don't.
The Jesus of Forever is now found in pursuing the correct sequential processes clearly ordained from heaven ('cause it’s from The Bible) and jealously guarded by the fervour of Evangelical theological accuracy.
But, every-time I encounter this Christian pop-psychology, (overly sub-texted with Biblical footnotes of further Evangelical acumen), I am immediately confronted with my failure and an exponential addition of fresh guilt. For my heart knows I don't know what these gurus know. My mind knows I can't do what they suggest. My body knows it has tried.
I am weary yet again.
The doyen of Christianity at least since B.B.Warfield (but I suspect really John Calvin and Martin Luther) has been the a priori position of 'correct theology'. The Throne of Grace is only approached through correct theology and then alone can my transformation arrive (or so the reasoning goes).
Yet correct theology is managed simply by the mind and mediated by Christian gurus of wild popularity and articulate prose. No room at the inn for the Spirit of Truth here. In fact theology has become the arbiter of truth when it cannot even be the guarantor of truth (let alone personal transformation).
I want to know Jesus. I want to walk His highway of righteousness. I desperately want to live in His grace, and I want to love as He does, even more than I want life itself. I want to hear from His Throne, “Well done good faithful and servant.” I want transformation.
The lament that has permeated my years and punctuated my calendar is that contemporary formulaic believism just doesn't work.
Transformation has not been brought to my soul by saying more prayers, attending more church or attempting more soul-destroying evangelism. Transformation has not been received by saying thanks for my suffering, learning contentment and seeking to rejoice. I suspect that all these are the fruits of transformation and not the causes.
The terrifying notion that spiritual transformation requires our involvement and effort* assaults a guilt-ridden soul afresh as simply more steps I have learned that I cannot do.
Strivings assail the spirit of man, they do not strengthen it.
I am even wearier.
A quick-step down the halls of time may yield some more satisfying (at least for my soul) fodder and some deft transformational direction.
How have the men that made history been transformed?
All these transformed men are in the wilderness, most are also alone.
The Psalmist (and the Minor Prophets) was so direct and clear for the soul seeking transformation: It is in stillness I meet God. (Ps 46:10a)
"... be still and know that I am God."
It is in stillness that God is met and known. It is in solitude His grace will wash my person and I will feel His heartbeat. This is now transformation.
When the guiding gurus, the tips of theology and the navigations of Christian psychology are truly absent, then I am eminently available for transformation; otherwise I simply have a third- party faith.
So where then is transformation found?
Transformation is found not by the hands or even the head, but by the still heart. It is found not in doing but in being#. It is found in the wilderness of stillness.
* Page 7 “Conversations,” Vol 7.2 Fall/Winter 09,
# I believe it was Rick Warren who said we are 'human beings - not human doings.'