In this 6 minute audio, I explain Neil Cole's concept of Life Transformation Groups and why you need to be part of one!
When we find ourselves so overcommitted to things that our health starts being affected, we know that we are out of balance. When we find ourselves frustrated and angry all the time, without any time or space for bible reading and prayer, we know that we are out of balance. When we find ourselves being self-serving without regard for another, we know that we are out of balance.
I tried to address these ideas from a spiritual point of view over the summer in a series of sermons and blog posts called "The Four Transformational Relationships." My main idea was that we ought to seek to live a life of balance. That balance comes only we focus on all four of these relationships, because each contributes something to our spiritual wholeness. The four relationships are first, our relationship with God, then with other believers, "neighbors," and "strangers" (the last two being biblical categories, not how we generally use the term today).
Over the weekend I read a little book by Martin Luther King Jr. titled The Measure of a Man. This little book, through two short essays, represents the foundation of King's thoughts on justice and social equity.
Drawing from the book of Revelation, where the new Jerusalem descends and is equal in length, breadth, and height, King uses an allegory to develop a triad of relationships that correspond to one's life. He argues that to be in true balance, we must have equal regard for the length of our lives, the breadth of our lives, and height of our lives.
By "length," King means the self-interest by which we live by. He does not mean to imply selfishness, but that when we love ourselves properly, we live by an inspired moral vision that transcends ourselves. But this starts with proper self-love.
By "breadth," King means concern for others. This is the basis for his concern for social justice. Without proper love of others, and concern for their well-being, we are out of balance. That "wall" is not equal to the wall of our self-love. We must rise above our own self-interest to be concerned for the concerns of all humanity.
By "height," King refers to our awareness of and love for God. He notes that many stop after the first two and do not find the true balance they need. One's relationship with God is what binds the other two relationships together, fuses them, and provides the true balance, where all three walls are equal.
How do you measure in each of these three areas? How do you need to grow, extending one or more walls to come in line with the others?
Last Sunday I introduced the concept of four transformational relationships. My point was simple: if we will commit ourselves to growing in relationships with four "categories" of people--as defined clearly in and by scripture--we will be transformed.
The four categories (or areas) of relationship are: with God, with other believers, with neighbors, and with strangers. You can find more about these four transformational relationships, including my presentation outline and slides, by clicking the link. The actual presentation can be streamed or downloaded here.
Below the graphic I explain how to begin practicing, or living, these four transformative relationships.
Building off this outline, I recommend starting with your relationship with God. Because we are dealing with spiritual relationships (not merely social) our base point must begin with God. I suggest combining your regular worship attendance with a regular commitment to prayer and bible reading. You can begin simply: prayer can be either intercessory or thanksgiving, and your bible reading can be as little as one chapter each day. But begin. It's the beginning of this process and the time that you carve out for it that create the space for God to teach you and draw in to a deeper, growing relationship with him.
Next, I suggest that you focus on one of the other areas of relationship. Suppose you want to develop transformative relationships with other believers. The associated action for this area is mentoring relationships. One of the best ways to achieve this is to attend one of our bible classes on either Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. At the bible study you will be around other believers. You can then invite one or two of them to join you for coffee where you can discuss the lesson further or talk about your bible reading our spiritual growth. Look for others that you can share something with, but be careful to realize that this is a two-way street: you need to receive also, not just give.
You should be regularly participating in your relationship with God and in at least one other area. You balance this out with occasional work in the other two areas. For example, you can practice evangelism with your neighbors (biblically, your neighbors are anyone you encounter with a need) merely by being friends with and serving co-workers, family members, and even geographic neighbors.
In the bible (primarily the Old Testament), "strangers" refers to foreigners or those who pass through the land. Symbolically for us, "strangers" are those who pass through our lives. I recommend that we seek to serve them in order to leave the impression of God's love upon them. You can accomplish this by volunteering somewhere, walking your neighborhood and seeing what develops, or by some other way that puts you in contact with people that you will not see too often. Make it your goal to serve them in a gentle, humble, and loving way.
To grow spiritually, you need to take action. God calls us to action. Jesus told us to "go and do likewise (Luke 10:37). These four transformative relationships balance our spiritual growth and help us to grow and minister in the areas of relationship the bible instructs us in.
Please pray about how you should begin this journey...and then begin!
To grow spiritually, we need to regularly engage in four different areas of relationship: with God, with believers, with neighbors, and with strangers. This graphic describes these four areas by focusing on a core thought, a key scripture, a leading action, and several examples of each.
My personal view is that we should always be focused in our relationship with God and at least one other significant relationship in one of the other three areas. We can supplement this with ongoing activity in the other two relationship areas.
By taking action, we'll grow.
What do you think?
This blog is for articles and book reviews. I post my sermons at my Sermons page, where you can listen to sermons online or download them in MP3 format.
Although I work for the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan, this blog represents my own thoughts and does not necessarily correspond to the views and workings of the Otisville Church of Christ.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.