Before thinking about mission, let’s first look at how the Scriptures talk about transformation.
2 Corinthians says: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” It’s important for us to understand how this ‘new creation’ occurs. The Puritans used the term vivification – which is when we get caught up in the righteousness of Christ so that we are transformed in how we live our lives.
Transformation is nothing like “I quit looking at porn so Jesus would love me.” That’s not how this thing works. Neither is it “if I could just be good enough, then ___________.”
Earning our righteousness is a death trap. In fact, it’s this backward understanding of the gospel that in the end has emasculated missions.
Watch the Scriptures talk about how we’re transformed.
How does Colossians three start? If we have been baptized into Christ’s life then “set your minds on…” – on what? “…on things above” – where Christ is seated.
And how does 2 Corinthians say we are transformed? By beholding. In beholding Christ we are transformed from one degree of glory to the next.
You’re not transformed by saying, “here are the behaviors I must stop.” You’re transformed, rather, by realizing: “isn’t Jesus better than these things?”
Our Affections Guide our Actions
We had a guy at The Village say this at our church: “you know why you look at porn? Because you want to.”
“No, I don’t!” is the typical, whiny response.
My response is: Yes, you do. You want to, which is why you do it. So let’s get past the “Oh, I’m a victim!” mentality. You are a wicked, unrighteous man in need of a righteousness that you’ll never possess outside of Jesus Christ.
So our push is in to Jesus, our desire is toward him, so that our affection in him overrides our “want to” of it.
This is John Owen 101. “Oh to behold the Glory of Christ! Here in would I live, Here in would I die, here on would I dwell in my thoughts and my affections until all things here below become as dead and deformed things, and in no longer, any way, calling out for my affections.”
I know this sounds crazy, but this is the beginning of mission. If we don’t get this right, we get mission wrong. Let’s look at what comes right after this transformation in 2 Corinthians five again, adding verse 18:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Transformation precedes and leads to mission.