Transformation is something that happens on many levels and in various spheres of culture. It doesn’t typically happen overnight, but it can happen more rapidly if people unite together in doing what it takes to bring it to pass. In my last blog, I stated that the pursuit of Jesus is the number one thing needed to bring about transformation, a change in form, appearance, nature, or character (dictionary.com). As I pray and contend for spiritual transformation in my city, Holy Spirit continues to highlight Biblical texts that contain transformation secrets I had never noticed before. One such text is found in the book of Genesis, the story of Abraham. In a quest to obey God, Abraham journeyed to a strange land where strange people lived. If you have ever moved to a different city or nation, I am sure you can understand some of the culture shock Abraham and his family were experiencing. Even in the midst of adapting to a new region, Abraham and Lot increased exponentially. So much so that they had to part ways. If you are familiar with the story, you remember that Lot chose to take his belongings and make a home in the city of Sodom, while Abraham stayed in the land of Canaan.
During Lots stay in Sodom, he faced some obstacles that could have taken him out completely. The city was attacked and he, along with the entire city, was taken captive. In Genesis 14 we find Abraham’s response to his nephew’s misfortune. Resolute action! He assembled his faithful servants, born in his own house, and went after the enemy army. With the Lord on his side and a strategy that I am sure was divinely inspired, Abraham won the battle. He was a hero.
Skip ahead a few chapters and we find Lot in trouble once again. Only this time, the trouble was not an earthly army. The Lord began a dialogue with Abraham, placing him in a strategic position of intercession for a city that was devastatingly wicked. During his intercession, Abraham propositioned God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if He could find 10 righteous people living there (Genesis 18:31). Unfortunately, God was unable to find enough righteous individuals in the city, but what He did was amazing grace at its finest. God honored Abraham’s intercession and went above and beyond what he asked (Ephesians 3:20). Although God could not spare the city, Abraham’s intercession released the mercy of God to rescue Lot and his family from the judgement that was about to come.
What does this have to do with the spiritual transformation of cities? Glad you asked! Through this tale of two responses, I began to understand that we, the Church, have two responsibilities required of us while our cities travel the road to transformation. One response is intercession, the other is action. It is our job to determine which one God is requiring from us and when. Engaging in natural actions that help individuals and communities overcome challenges and heartache is very close to the heart of many people. As a culture, it weighs heavy on our hearts and has been the inspiration behind many social justice programs launched throughout the world. It is my belief that the church should be at the forefront of this charge! This response of taking action I call being “present”. It is hard to cause change from a distance. Being “present” communicates loudly to our community that we care and we are a people that want to be part of the answer, bringing the change needed.
However, there are times when Holy Spirit needs us to not be the person or organization that takes action in a natural sense, but one that intercedes for the grace of God to be released so that transformation can occur. During this time, instead of being “present” God calls us to be in His “presence”. We can see Abraham responding this way and how effective it was. If it wasn’t for the intercession effort of one man, who knows if anyone would have made it out of Sodom alive. Never underestimate the power of doing what God is asking of you, no matter how big or insignificant the mission may appear.
God is looking for obedient lovers that He can trust with divine assignments. I believe Holy Spirit is raising a remnant that knows how to walk in full surrender to the master Strategist. If the strategy is to hang out in the “presence” as an intercessor then that will prove to be the most effective way to help our cities transform into their God-given expressions. If the strategy is to take action and do something, then do what is necessary in the power of the Spirit, and the action will produce the desired results. The truth is both responses are needed and both will be required of us during the course of our cities transformation. In fact, in order to be effective in the “present”, you have to be one who dwells in the “presence”. Let’s do our best to join Him in what He is orchestrating. I am confident that we will be glad we did and our cities will never be the same as a result!