Success Requires Transformation
Posted on November 11, 2022 by Jon Trotter
By Paul Yoder
As a teacher educator, I often remind my students to refer back to the learning objectives they have identified in their lesson plans. These future teachers are gaining knowledge and skills that will equip them to be effective educators. The role of objectives in their planning is key—the objective is the goal.
In my four years on the VMMissions Board of Directors, I have found that our vision statement serves as a beautiful and life-giving objective. The verb “envisions” speaks to the “picture” that we are painting. The goal is a lofty one—one that neither I, nor the whole of VMMissions, can achieve. Yet I find that our vision is powerful precisely because it is aspirational and therefore reminds us that we rely on the Holy Spirit.
Three Scriptures have recently been helping me more fully “envision” success in God’s kingdom by highlighting both the transformation we need in order to discover God’s kingdom and the transformation we experience through our kingdom participation.
Jesus Transforms Our Person
The close link between transformation and God’s kingdom shone through during a recent Sunday School lesson on John 3. In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus: “Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (HCSB). The causal relationship that Jesus describes is profound. Being “born again” is not simply for my salvation, but is directly related to my ability to envision God’s kingdom.
I am inspired by the “Spirit-filled church of many cultures” phrase in our vision precisely because it is the work of transformation through Christ that is bringing together believers and workers from many cultures, communities, and countries. As Jesus illustrates in John 3:8, God’s Spirit is not constrained by language or miles.
Jesus Transforms our Perspective
Philippians 1:9-11 has been an anchoring passage in the life of my family following the death of my father, Nate Yoder, in April 2020. During our last family beach trip a few years earlier, Dad had printed copies of this passage to use during our full family devotional time. In reflecting on this passage, I am reminded that righteousness is a very difficult word for four-year-old children to pronounce, and that a righteous life is the fruit of not just devotion to God but knowledge of God’s kingdom, the peaceable reign by which God wants us to order our lives. This transformed way of life prepares us for “the day of Christ” and brings glory to God.
Jesus Transforms our Purpose
Finally, the Luke 5 passage in which Jesus calls his first disciples illustrates the ways in which God provides and then calls us to transformation in God’s kingdom. When Jesus approaches Simon Peter, he performs an initial miracle by telling them where to fish and then overflowing their nets. This interaction astonishes and even distresses these professional fishermen. Peter declares himself “a sinful man” and asks Jesus to leave. But Jesus invites Peter, James, and John into new life, including a new vocation of “fishing for people.”
VMMissions envisions a Spirit-filled church of many cultures living out God’s kingdom in every sphere of life.
—VMMISSIONS VISION STATEMENT
In sum, success in God’s kingdom requires and reflects continual transformation. The transformation is so complete that we sometimes refer to God’s “upside-down kingdom” or being “born again” (John 3:3). In this new kingdom, the old measures of success—political power (Nicodemus) or a full net of fish (Peter)—are replaced with a life of discipleship. In this new kingdom, followers of Jesus overcome the tribalism and polarization of our society through the power of the Holy Spirit. This vision of right relationship and a “harvest of righteousness” is only possible through Jesus (Philippians 1:11; NRSV).
I choose to invest in the work of VMMissions because I believe that VMMissions is driven by a worthy objective: envisioning a Spirit-filled church of many cultures living out God’s kingdom in every sphere of life. Just like I remind my students, objectives like this give us a goal to focus upon and strive toward. May we at VMMissions pursue that beautiful goal wholeheartedly through the transforming work of Jesus Christ, who is bringing vision into reality.
Paul Yoder serves as Chair of the VMMissions Board of Directors.