As followers of Jesus we want to see spiritual, economic and social transformation of our communities, villages, cities, regions and countries. We want to see the Kingdom of God grow and expand on the earth. We want to stop the power of sickness, poverty, environmental change, fear, wars, and broken marriages. We hope that love, joy, and peace will be manifest instead.
If that is our hope, then what are some key components to seeing this transformation happen?
Jesus called us to go into the world and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). In verses 19 and 20 He says that a disciple is someone who is baptized and obeys everything that Jesus has commanded him. This obedience can never be done without love. Because you love you want to obey. I love my wife, so I want to do what she says (most of the time 😂). The same is true of our relationship with Jesus. When we love Him, we want to obey Him. Love without obedience is a misuse of His abundance of grace. Similarly, obedience without love is legalism. In short, we could say that a disciple is someone who loves and obeys Jesus (John 14:15).
When love and obey Jesus, the world will change. His Kingdom will be built and communities will be changed.
Before REAL LASTING transformation can happen, the hearts of the people need to be changed. Paul says in Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (NKJV). The power of sin in the hearts of the people needs to be broken. When we repent and believe and start to follow Jesus, the power of sin has been broken. It has no mastery over us anymore. The Holy Spirit comes to abide in us forever (John 14:16) to empower us to love and obey Jesus and to bring His Kingdom on the earth. From there, He appoints us as His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) and plants us in the world to bear fruit (Mat 13:24-30). In this way, we can bring lasting change. If we don’t have that heart change and walk in loving obedience to Jesus, we will only work on the outer man, not on the inner man.
When we look at life of Jesus, we see that (most of the time) He loved and served the people by addressing their physical needs. Sometimes He gave people food, at another time He restored a women in a community and yet another time He healed diseases. After He addressed the needs of the people, He called people to repentance and asked them to lay down their lives and follow Him (Luke 14:26-35). It was never His goal to only meet their needs, but He wanted people to lay down their lives and follow Him.
That’s why I believe that practical help, social projects and social justice issues ALWAYS need to be combined with sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom and calling people to repentance. Practical help, like feeding kids, cooking meals etc. are very important and help us to get connected to people, but there has to be some sort of sharing about the Kingdom and Jesus, so that the hearts of the people will be changed FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
This is the reason why lasting transformation always needs to have an element of making disciples and sharing the gospel of the Kingdom. Another key component for transformation in a community is business. Read more about it here.