Nov 22, 2010 by Don Payne | 0 Comments
Pay attention to conversations among serious followers of Jesus and you'll almost certainly hear two words over and over: "radical" and "transformation". Quite often you'll hear them used together. When God gets a foothold in our lives we become simultaneously hungry for change and frustrated at how little we seem to change (at least in some areas or at the rate we would like!). The desire for transformation can be as painful as the process of transformation. The hunger and the frustration collide at an intersection with a cry for "radical" transformation.
What does it look like to be radically transformed? To be noticeably transformed? To be so transformed that the hunger abates along with the frustration? Does it imply an intense or dramatic sensation? If I'm honest, those express the "radical transformation" I would like to see in my own life. Yet, radical transformation is often very subtle because it is radical.
Our English word "radical" comes from the Latin word radicitus which the University of Notre Dame Latin dictionary defines as "by the roots" or "utterly". It does not refer to that which is extreme or outlandish as its English colloquial version often connotes. We might think of radical transformation as change that takes place right at the vertex of an angle. In geometry, as two lines move further from the vertex of an angle the distance between them is more pronounced. Yet, even a one-degree difference between two lines results in increasing difference the further away the lines move from that point.
The transformation that God brings about in our lives is sometimes barely noticeable because it is radical; taking place at the vertex of our lives. For example, when God is working on our most basic assumptions and habits in little ways, He is engineering radical change. If we pay attention to God's radical work at that level, it can end up making a truly dramatic difference over time, even if we lose track of all the connections.
I have become most aware of this process in my marriage, which will come as no surprise to many (not because they know my marriage, but because they know their own!). Marriage has a way of exposing and challenging our deepest selfishness. When I am faced with tiny, seemingly insignificant choices like whether to leave the hair dryer in a place where my wife can more easily get to it the next day or put it away to satisfy my own compulsive need for tidiness, a basic value and habit is being tested. The list could go on and on, but I hope the point is clear. The fibers that weave together to bond a strong relationship seem to be quite thin and insignificant. Yet, when these fibers fray a relationship can weaken so slowly that we find ourselves in a relational quagmire and not even know how we got there. If I focus on "radical transformation" only in the dramatic ways, I miss the real radical change that ends up making all the difference.
We are radically transformed as we pay attention to the significance of choices we make at the vertices of our lives. We are radically transformed as we respond to the new way of the Spirit in those choices, forging habits that end up bypassing countless toxins in our lives while building in lifegiving nutrients.