By Joyce Ahn (based on the teachings of Dick Scoggins)
So many of us have issues we want to deal with and hurts from our past that keep us from fully living to our potential. But often, the question is how do we get healed? Many of us seek out advice from counselors or friends, but more often than not, our wounds remain and so does the accompanying pain.
When we look at Jesus’ teachings, it is clear that living in His Kingdom means that we are transformed. In fact, most of Jesus’ interactions with people recorded in Scripture involve him radically disrupting their life, and often liberating them from a physical or spiritual issue.
If we say we follow Jesus, why is it that so many of us lack that transformative lifestyle and freedom from brokenness? Here’s a few insights into the process of experiencing deep transformation:
In Humility, Strength
A crucial step in healing starts with a common insight people know from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous: admitting that we have brokenness and we need help! When we admit this reality to ourselves, to God, and to friends (our community), we are one step closer to healing.
We must confront sin head-on if we want to experience the healing we need. This confrontation means acknowledging that sin is a poison to our souls and must be eradicated. If we feel the need to confront a friend about a sin he or she is committing, we must flow from a spirit of humility and prayer. In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus reminds us that the point of confronting a brother who is sinning is so that we might win him over and that he repent. The point of confrontation is not to point fingers at someone else and make him or her an example. It is to restore them to wholeness with God and with the community. What a radical difference than how many, in faith communities or otherwise, address sin.
Rediscovering the Art of Discipline
Though discipline is not fun or pleasant, it is crucial to building healthy people and healthy communities. The word “discipline” often has a negative connotation. Even in established faith communities, it’s a rarity to hear about discipline going on for wrongdoing and for it to produce healing results for those involved. And yet, God has a lot to say about how important discipline is in experiencing healing. For example, we see in Hebrew 12:6-8,10-11 (NLT):
For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all…For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
When it comes to dealing with brokenness in our lives, we have to have self-discipline to change how we think, feel, and act. If we come alongside a friend going through the process of transformation, that means being a friend who asks hard questions and holds high standards, which assists in the process of cultivating self-discipline for the friend.
The word “confession” often conjures up the idea people admitting their wrongdoings to a solitary priest. Though this is one form of confession, it certainly isn’t the only way. In his letter, James reminds us that if we confess our sins to each other and pray for each other, we will be healed (James 5:16). What a promise! We must put aside our tendency to keep our sins to ourselves and thinking that whispering apologies to God is enough. It’s not. In confession to others, we find the healing we are longing for.
Also, confession requires admitting that we did something wrong and saying what we will do differently next time. Notice that this is dramatically different than saying you are sorry for something and then going back to that same pattern later on.
The word repentance in Greek is “metaneoeo” which means to change one’s mind or purpose. It’s like making a U-turn and switching the way you are driving down a freeway. Repentance is not a one-time apology. It is a new way of living. True repentance means entering a new stage of life and standing up to fight against an issue rather than continuing to get beat up by it.
One way to measure if we have truly repented is to see how we react to situations that use to make us react in fear, anger, or whatever reaction that doesn’t honor God. If we find ourselves defaulting to patience, forgiveness, and understanding, it is a great measure of the healing we have experienced.
You may be thinking about your own situation and wondering if transformation really is possible for you. It is! Talk to God and a few trusted friends about it, and you will be on your way to healing. It is not instantaneous, nor is it easy, but it will certainly be worth it!
One thought on “Community: The Key to Healing and Transformation”
Excellent stuff! Great reminders of the importance of confession and repentance in community in order to experience lasting transformation.