Several weeks ago my wife and I journeyed to the downtown Tulsa area to watch our daughter participate in The Color Run. The Color Run is a non-timed 5k event that boasts itself as the happiest 5k on the planet. The event has only two rules: 1. Wear white at the starting line 2. Finish plastered in color. I wasn’t sure what to expect as we headed out for the event but I am always aware of Holy Spirits desire to talk to me in any circumstance or situation. Our journey actually provided us some exercise as it entailed a pretty good hike just to get to where all the activities would both start and finish. Approaching the venue we turned a corner and were met by a sea of white t-shirts, 20,000 + we were told, waiting to begin this transformational journey. After the race began each participant would face a different cloud of color at each kilometer mark. At the completion of this particular race not only would each participant have successfully completed a 5k but they would also be transformed by the five different colors that had bombarded them on their journey. We were and are so proud of Hali for not just participating but also successfully completing her goal.
As I stood there I realized I had just witnessed one of the greatest transformations of all time. Twenty thousand plus participants were transformed from a solid white sea of shirts to a tie-dyed ocean of color. However, I quickly realized that the transformation was only external. After a short drive home and a quick shower all remnants of the event would soon pass through the drain. It was in that moment that Holy Spirit began to remind me of the vast differences between the gospel of the kingdom and what the organized, institutionalized church is preaching. What is being preached from most pulpits each Sunday rarely makes it through the drive home much less to the shower before it is lost down the drain of everyday life and living. Week in and week out the organized, institutionalized church is externally trying to transform peoples lives through bible study, Sunday school, prayer, youth and children’s ministries, and other programs. Although none of these items are inherently wrong without the internal change and infilling of the Holy Spirit all of these activities will be to no avail and eventually will be a source of aggravation and frustration.
Yahweh never intended change to come from the outside in but always intended it to be produced from the inside out. In Romans 12:2 Paul tells the Romans to not be conformed (pressed into a mold; shaped by outside pressures) but to be transformed (morph; be changed from an inside force or pressure) by changing the way we think. Unlike The Color Run participants let us not seek any transformation that can simply be discarded with an evening shower but seek internal change that can never be removed or taken from us. I want to leave you with The Message bible version of Romans 12:2.
Romans 12:2 (The Message) Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.