Foreword: Whole Life Transformation
Whole Life Transformation by Keith Meyer, Intervarsity Press, 2010.
Whole Life Transformation places before us exactly what its title suggests. The message is that success in ministry and in life is found by becoming on the "inside" the kind of person who lives in the kingdom of God here and now. This person is led by their confidence in Jesus to seek the kingdom of God, to seek to live in it, more than anything else and in all places. As they do this, transformation into Christlikeness progresses, and they find that, more and more, they easily and routinely do the kinds of things practiced and taught by Jesus Christ. Spiritual formation in Christ is the process that occurs to those who have, by grace and by choice, entered into the status of the disciple or apprentice of Jesus in kingdom living.
Two things currently tend to defeat discipleship and transformation among Christians. First is the theology--the soteriology--that being a Christian has nothing essentially to do with being a disciple. Being a disciple is an add-on, an option, which the Christian is free to choose or omit. Salvation is forgiveness and that is secured by accepting a particular theory of the atonement. Salvation therefore has nothing to do with discipleship or transformation, nor they with it. James B. Torrance and many others have pointed out that this omits living in the trinitarian community. It omits taking on the nature of the Father and dwelling in the goodness and righteousness of his family. This in turn redefines the gospel and makes success in "church work" a matter of getting as many people as possible (supposedly) ready to die. That becomes a matter of technique, and leadership a matter for experts in the technique. The soul of the leader withers, and often, they think, it is all "for the sake of the work."
The second obstructive idea derives from the first. It is the idea that discipleship to Jesus is something religious, that it is "church work." It has to do only with religious activities as defined by religious activities. So it is thought. But because discipleship is a matter of learning to live, discipleship is a matter of our whole life. Its primary place is where we live: our home and our work. Discipleship is for the world, in the sense of ordinary life--whole life--and it only occurs in that world. Church activity, if it is to be successful in God’s terms, is in support of such discipleship. The church is for discipleship, and discipleship is for the world as God’s place. That is what the "Great Commission" of Matthew 28 plainly says. (See also Col. 3:17.)
What all of this means in practice is that relationships form the receptacle for receiving the fullness of Christ and are the place where the kingdom comes and God’s will is to be done as it is "in the heavens." Church relationships, too, and that would be a great step forward. But all relationships: first to God, then to everyone with whom I am in meaningful contact, my "neighbors." This has to be done from the inside, where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control come to reign supreme and in unison over all that is done. We grow into this, "learn" it, as students or apprentices to Christ. The idea that there is something else that can take the place of this, or that this can be omitted in favor of "service," is a primary delusion of Satan over the world order--and often over the "church" order.
Keith Meyer has suffered the consequences of these two theological barriers to whole life transformation in both his personal journey and in his service as a minister. But he has now come to insightful and biblical terms with them and can help us move beyond them to understandings and practices of kingdom living that will lift us into trinitarian fellowship and obedience to Christ from transformed "insides."Whole Life Transformation therefore is not just analysis of what’s wrong but, more importantly, is a trustworthy guide to what is right: one drawn both from the author’s own experience and from the Bible and the wisdom of Christ, proven in the experience of his people throughout the ages.
This is a hopeful book that brings helpful solutions, pointing the way to the life that God upholds and blesses, and giving directions for entering that life and growing there. In this way it also shows how such a life can rule and guide Christian groups through authentic discipleship to Jesus, the King and the Master. It is written out of much pain and deep learnings that have drawn the author off the beaten path of contemporary evangelicalism and guided him into the way of companionship with Jesus 24/7. In so doing it revives the age-old heart of evangelicalism.
Now is our time. By far the most powerful "church-growth plan" ever implemented is that of the Great Commission. Its incredible effect on the world in the times immediately following its impartation was due to the whole life transformation it brought to millions of ordinary people who, as disciples, were taught to do and lead others to do "all things, whatsoever I have commanded you." Have you got a better idea?