Tag Archive: transformation


Let me rephrase the question: would you do something if there were no direct punishment for you? (You can extend this to any illegal/immoral activity, whether it’s stealing, harming, raping, etc.).

What deters many people is the resulting punishment/consequences if one of those acts is done by one person against another. Many times, this is how some churches present their understanding of the Christian life i.e. God will punish you if you do that. So, for many, living a moral life is really about punishment-avoidance.

What this question suggests is whether you are changed fundamentally, especially from a Christian faith perspective? Because if you would do it because you can get away with it, what does that speak to who we really are?

John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” To shift the angle: do I try to stay away from doing bad things (you define what those are) primarily because I’m afraid I’ll get caught or because I believe those acts are fundamentally wrong in and of themselves? After all, in the hypothetical scenario that I wouldn’t be punished for that act, there are still consequences because it impacts the other person negatively. Sometimes, I ask myself that question:

  • Would I steal (embezzle, etc.) just to get what I want?
  • Would I get back at another person through some sort of violence (physical, material, psychological, social) if I felt wronged or because I had contempt?
  • Would I treat women essentially as objects for my own pleasure?

It challenges me to address a deeper issue within me i.e. is God shaping that fundamental desire to seek the betterment of the person around me vs exploiting them for my own selfish desires, which in turn shapes my behaviour? This is beyond punishment-avoidance behaviour modification. This is what the Holy Spirit wants to pursue in my life and everyone else’s.

At times, facing that question forces me to consider where am I at really with God. (To be honest, there are dark spots in my soul I don’t want to acknowledge sometimes.) Yet, it’s God’s desire that the very depths of my soul be transformed so that I might be like Christ. God help me in that process.

The darkness of the soul

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about some tensions between us. As part of the conversation, I mentioned that I rarely am I shocked by a person’s (mis)conduct anymore. Shamed or saddened? Yes. But not shocked. Part of that is understanding that everyone has sin within them. It’s part of what’s called “total depravity“. Part of it is experiential; I notice that within myself are some thoughts that are really dark which (I’m guessing) others wouldn’t assume I would have. My friend couldn’t fathom this about herself and was offended when I alluded to the fact that there could be those dark corners within her.

There’s one chapter in Lance Witt’s book Replenish where he challenges leaders to realize the dark corners of one’s soul. It’s something that we all don’t want to face. However, whether we like it or not, we need to acknowledge that we all have the capacity to hurt, to manipulate, to molest or even murder. No one is prone to those root thoughts which can lead to such actions. It’s not a comforting thought or awareness. However, as I look at my life, I realize that those extrapolations are possible if I allow certain tendencies unchecked. Unless I am willing to bring those before God and allow his transformation to happen within me (another blog for another day on fleshing that out), I could become a player, a murderer, a rapist. (Really, any one of us can as well.) The key is to check back with God, for him to reveal those inner corners that we tend not to want to look at. Left unchecked, those corners can fester into something very dark and evil.

May God help all of us to see those dark corners and to bring them into his light.

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