God created a community among men. The community was created to show God’s nature to the world, to live in a love relationship with God and to rule the world. God gave control of the world to man, intending that man, in cooperation with God, would create an environment of increasing beauty, harmony and bounty.
When Adam sinned, the world fell under the control of Satan. Increasing misery, pain and destruction were the result.
However, God’s purpose has not changed. He continues to invites men to form a community with Him as a partner. He continues to promote the creation of beauty, harmony and bounty in the world. So, we are His partners in winning back rule of the world, and establishing God’s rule … one place at a time.
People tend to view God’s work in an either\or context. Either establish God’s Kingdom through a spiritual transformation, or through a physical transformation. But, in reality, they cannot be separated.
Spiritual transformation has priority for a couple of reason. (1) It affects the eternity of people. One of the problems with a number of business practices today revolves around the fact that businesses too often focus on the bottom line for the short term. And business practices (and attitudes) have crept into the church.
(2) Spiritual transformation has priority because it forms the foundation for physical transformation. The essence of spiritual transformation is a renewal of the human heart. When a person perceives truth about Jesus, and it affects them, they can choose to alter their allegiance from themselves, their company, their country, their tribe, their group to Jesus. This change of paradigm is so powerful that it can only be compared to living a new life. (Spiritual realities are also activated. So, it is more than a mental change. But the change in thinking is extremely powerful.) It is this re-ordering of values, purpose and allegiance that lay the ground work for real physical transformation.
Physical works can move situations toward God’s ideal of the world. There are multiple factors that produce the complex phenomena know a poverty. It requires more than economic stimulus and jobs to overcome it. There are educational, health, political, psychological and cultural factors that contribute to and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Building schools and hospitals correct part of it. Ensuring a fair and honest government is part of a solution. Giving people hope of a better future contributes. So, works that lead to physical transformation can lead to spiritual transformation. Acts that further the renewal of beauty, harmony and bounty of God’s creation can create an environment of openness to the good new of God’s love. But they may not.
We often underestimate the power of God’s message. We often underestimate the density of Satan’s fog of deception. We often underestimate the power of acts of charity to disrupt someone’s world view. There is a tension between the physical and the spiritual that we need to learn to live with, to utilize and to feed off of. We need to use this tension to stimulate creativity to plant transformation in whatever soil we are currently working.