A Sermon Preached at the ACK St. James Church Buruburu during the Kiswahili Service on Sunday 28th January, 2018
- Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17
- Jeremiah 1:4-10 (Main text)
- Mark 1:40-45
The word transformation points us to a desired end which results in celebration. It also points us to our current negative or uncomfortable reality which needs to be transformed. Transformation is not a self-driven process but a process driven and directed. Spiritual transformation which Paul calls upon the Romans (Romans 12:1-2), to go through is God’s work as the Chief Agent. However, as much as God is the Chief Spiritual Transformer, He uses diverse means and ways to carry out the process of transformation. In today’s texts, we are focusing on God’s servants as agents of transformation. In the Bible, there are several examples in which God Himself confronted individuals and transformed them:
Before Jacob was transformed by God, he had struggled with men and overcame them. No man could transform Jacob – he swindled his twin brother Esau of his birth right and he managed to ‘rob’ his uncle Laban of his riches by marrying his two daughters; Rachael and Leah and grew rich in livestock out of Laban’s livestock. But before Jacob met Esau, he had a wrestling contest with the angel of the Lord (God):
Genesis 32:24-31 “24So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” 31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.”
Jacob, who had defeated men; whom no man could transform, was finally transformed by God; he left the transformation process limping; totally transformed.
God have also used animals as agents of transformation:
Numbers 22:21ff – God used a donkey to speak to Balaam
Jonah 1, 2 – God used a fish for Jonah’s transformation:
“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.” (2:1)
There are three things about Transformation Agents:
- Transformation Agents are Called by God
Agents of spiritual transformation are called by God:
Jeremiah 1: 4-5 “4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was called to be a prophet. Prophets were transformers of their communities in the OT. They were religious transformers; they were social transformers; and they political transformers. Prophets sought to transform, not only their societies but also the people’s lifestyles.
God’s calling is neither an act of accident, chance nor personal will but God’s meticulous plan beforehand. God’s calling goes through a process; which starts with:
- Knowledge – I knew you. Before Jeremiah came into being, he existed in God’s mind
- Setting apart – I set you apart
- Appointment – I appointed you
- Transformation Agents are Mandated by God
Agents of transformation are mandated by God to be involved in the transformation process. Calling is one thing and being mandated to do what you are called to do is another. Mandate is what gives you permission to do something or releases you to get involved:
Jeremiah 1:7-9 “7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. 9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.”
Agents of transformation only does what they have been commanded by God to say or do, and only then will transformation take place.
Paul in his letter to the Romans has beautifully observed:
Romans 10:13-15 “13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
In these verses, Paul gives a step by step the role the mandate plays in transforming a sinner into a saint:
- “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There is no question about being saved – it is guaranteed that it is available for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. BUT the question is: How?
- Call only whom you have believed in. How can they believe
- Can only believe through hearing or after hearing. But How?
- Someone must preach to them. But how can someone preach?
- The preacher must be sent and mandated by God.
Transformation agents are mandated to be part of the transformation process of God’s people.
- Transformation Agents are Used by God
Transformation agents are used by God, as His instruments only; so that they don’t get credit for transformed lives.
Jeremiah 1:10 “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Transformation is not an easy affair that is why it has be God centred process.
Before reaching the final stage of transformation, there is uprooting and tearing down, destruction and overthrowing in order to build and plant. Agents of transformation have been called, mandated and are used by God to uproot all that is evil and to tear down all the strongholds of evil; they have been called, mandated and are used by God to destroy all forms of evil and overthrow the kingdoms of evil in order to build godly virtues and plant the kingdom of God on earth.
- Sculpture: The sculpture sees something beautiful inside a rugged rock. We might see a formless and ugly rock but the Sculpture sees a beautiful face or structure which he works meticulous to free from the rock – that is transformation.
- Tailor: The tailor must first cut a piece of cloth (in ‘destruction’ sense) in order to get a beautiful dress out of it. The owner of the piece of cloth might be shocked when the Tailor begins to cut the piece of cloth into pieces. But by and by, a beautiful dress comes out of a plain piece of cloth.
- Potter: From the formless mound of mud the potter brings out beautiful pottery.
The Psalmist (71:1-6, 15-17) acknowledges God as the author and driver of transformation. God transformed him in the past, and this he knows and believes very well. But now, he is in a situation whereby he beseeches God to still transform his circumstance.
In his gospel, Mark (1:40-45) gives us an illustration of transformation of a leper, from leprosy into wholeness of health. The leper had heard about Christ, the agent of transformation. May Christ the Sculpture, the Tailor and the Potter, will bring something great out of you. He may choose to use people as His agents or He may choose to reach out and touch you. Whatever means He chooses to carry out the process of transformation in our lives, may He truly bring out the best out of us.
In the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
4th Sunday after Epiphany, 2018
The Rev. Simon J. Oriedo
Curate – ACK St. James Parish – Buruburu