Asking the right question

I’m not often able to watch daytime television, but in recent weeks, my husband has occasionally tuned in to ABC’s “The Chew” to cultivate his “bromance” with Michael Symon. One afternoon, I caught a preview for a new show called “The Revolution.” The show brings together a team of experts in areas of design, fashion, health, fitness and therapy to help people transform their lives “from the inside out,” according to the Web site.

It was the “t” word that first caught my attention. Transformation.

So, I tuned in to the debut episode and was surprised to hear host Ty Pennington use this word repeatedly. He even referred to the team of experts as a “community.”

Transformation. Inside out change. Community.

Those words sounded familiar. I’ve heard them in church from time to time. But here, on TV, was a model for what the church could be doing to live out its mission in the world.

“The Revolution” is not the only show of its kind. Pennington’s previous show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” contained these elements. TLC’s “What Not to Wear” offers people a change in how they see themselves by showing them how to dress to accentuate their beauty. “The Biggest Loser” gives severely overweight people the tools and opportunity to literally lose half of themselves.

Changing people’s lives seems a popular idea these days, especially on television. I’m not saying the church has to be popular, but I have to wonder what causes people to allow their lives to be changed. It involves three steps.

  1. We have to know there’s a problem. I think, whether we admit it or not, we all know an area of lives we’d like to change. And there are lots of reasons we don’t. Maybe we’re embarrassed to admit it. Or we don’t know how to make the change happen. Or we’re afraid of the work it will take. Or we think we don’t have time.
  2. We have to be willing to ask for help. Most of these programs solicit nominations or applications to be on the show, so the person or a friend has to make the need known.
  3. We have to be willing to receive help. People trust the advice these “experts” have to give because they’ve seen the results on other shows or they’ve read their credentials. Those who want to give help have to prove, in some way, that they have the expertise to do so.

I’m reminded of a story in the Bible, recorded by the apostle John, when Jesus encounters a man who had been an invalid for 38 years (John 5). The man was lying near a pool that was said to have healing properties when the waters were stirred. By lying there, he had admitted his need.

Jesus’ question to the man has always puzzled me, though. He asks him, “Do you want to get well?” I’ve thought that’s a dumb question because the guy has been this way for 38 years. Isn’t the answer obvious?

But the man’s answer is equally puzzling. He doesn’t come right out and say, “Of course I want to get well!” Instead, he offers reasons why he isn’t already better. “I have no one to help me.” And, “someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Jesus, because he has the authority to do so, heals the man, and his life is changed.

I’m wondering why people don’t seem to be interested in the inside-out transformation the church has to offer. Because Jesus is still in the business of changing lives.

Maybe the changes in our lives aren’t obvious. I know it’s not always easy for me to admit, “yeah, I’ve got problems but this is how Jesus helps,” or to say, “you know, my life used to be like that but then I let God in.” It’s so much easier to pretend that we’re OK and we’ve always been that way. As if God somehow created a group of people who are immune to everyone else’s problems.

Maybe we ask the wrong questions. We ask what people need, if they’d like to come to church, if they know about Jesus, but how often do we ask, “Do you want to get well?”

Can you imagine a community of transformed people getting together regularly to celebrate the changes in their lives and the One who made it possible, offering themselves, their expertise and their experiences to people looking for a change in their lives?

It would be a revolution of its own kind.

Jesus isn’t going to give you $5,000 to spend on clothes in New York but He will clothe you with character qualities like kindness, compassion, gentleness and humility.

Jesus isn’t going to make you super fit, but He will exercise your faith.

Jesus isn’t going to give you a new house but He will prepare a place for you to live eternally.

He will give you a new heart. A new life. A new purpose. He will do all things for your good, even when it doesn’t make you “happy.”

Transformation is big entertainment business, it would seem. The church has the chance to make it her business again, too.

That’s my cup of tea for today. What’s got you wondering?

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