Consecration is primarily an Old Testament word but can be overlaid on the New Testament concept of fully giving ourselves to the purposes of Christ. Consecration speaks of a willful decision to commit oneself to God. It literally means “to set something apart as holy and committed to the purposes of God”. Read Paul’s statement here as it is recorded in Romans 12:1 in the Amplified Bible; “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, consecrated and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”
Consecration is the first step of the journey to true reformation and it requires first an awakening to the reality and presence of God. It is dependent upon a person’s personal recognition of God’s empowering presence in their life, a need for repentance from the things that has separated them from God (i.e. sin) and a willful choice to accept his rule and reign. It is the process of receiving Christ both as Lord and savior. It is the first and most important step in the Christian journey and becoming an instrument of reform.
Transformation is an issue of the mind. It is the process of coming into a new worldview. It speaks of no longer seeing the world the way the rest of the world does, but now though the eyes of God. It is referred to as “Kingdom perspective”. It is diametrically opposed to the old way of seeing things. It is part of an upside down world; one in which the least is the greatest, the first is the last, we are to love our enemies, and the leader is called to servant-hood. Paul said it like this, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Transformation is the process of grasping God’s perspective not only for the world, but for your own life. It is coming into the reality that your life isn’t an accident, but rather perfectly designed and planned. It is the awareness of the fact, as Rick Warren said, “You were created for a purpose.” The Charismatic expression of Christianity have referred to this phase as “renewal” because it is renewing your mind by opening your eyes to who you are and why you were put on earth at this particular time in human history. The NIV translates this, “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Renewal is not revival as many have hoped, but instead can lead to it if the process doesn’t stop there. Renewal is an inward work of the Spirit; it is a healing work that encompasses the hope that the renewed believer will discover God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for their individual life. Revival on the other hand is an outward work of Christ working through an empowered Christian. It is a result of people who have experienced renewal and discovered why God created them and are willing to go do it.
Sanctification is the process by which God makes us more like him. It is the process of becoming Christ-like in our attitudes and actions. It is a deep work of the Holy Spirit that does the final preparations to ready us for his service. It is here that he puts a holy righteous passion in us for a lost and dying world. It is here that he renders our hearts to see the world the way he sees it and gives us not only the desire to do something about it, but empowers our gifts and abilities to be effective. Sanctification gets our eyes off ourselves but first allows us to take an honest evaluation of who we are, measuring not only our level of faith but our deficits. It is here that we are motivated to get anything out of our lives that might hold us back from being functional Kingdom vessels. Paul said it this way in Romans 12. “I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body.”
Before I was in full time ministry I was a secondary school teacher. One of the subjects I taught during my twelve years in public education was anatomy and physiology. I was fascinated with the miracle of the body’s systems, one of which was the nervous system. I learned a term there that has stuck with me called as synapse. Synapse refers to a miraculous electrical connection that transmits messages from the sensory nerves and the motor nerves. The sensory nerves transmit messages from the sensory organs, (the nose to smell, ears to hear, eyes to see, the tongue for taste and the skin for touch). This information from the outside world is brought to the central nervous system (CNS) as information so that the body might react to it. For example, we touch something hot and the sensory nerves transmit this message to the CNS so that synapse can take place and the motor nerves stimulate the muscle fiber to pull away so as not to get burned.
Without synapse there is no response to the information gained. In my mind this is a perfect picture of many Christians who gain much knowledge but whose life reactions do not respond. As a result many Christians get burned by the world. Sanctification is like synapse. It makes our spirits sensitive to the pain and darkness of the world so that we will respond correctly.
God has given all of us certain gifts and abilities so that we can fulfill the reason he put us on the earth. Sanctification makes us acutely aware of this and motivates us to use our lives for his purposes. You can read about this in Romans 12:6-8. This is where Christian maturity and authenticity begin to take place.
Reformation means to re-form or to form again. In Jeremiah 18 the Lord spoke to the prophet concerning the reformation of his people. The Lord spoke to Jeremiah telling him to go down to the potter’s shed where he would find a potter forming a clay jar. The scripture tells us in verse four that “the jar he (the potter) was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.” God is in the business of reformation. He loves to recreate, restore and reconcile. The concept of being “born again” or making an “old man into a new creation” is a clear picture of this supernatural process. The idea of being a clay jar that is crushed and reformed is not a very appealing picture and so will be resisted by many. However, in reality this is the business God is in and it is the process every true believer must accept and embrace if they are truly sincere about becoming active functional vessels in his Kingdom. Not only are we to do this on an individual level, but we must be willing to let it happen to us on a corporate church level. It is through this process that we will be ready and equipped to leave a big handprint of God on a dying world. Only in this way will there ever be hope for social reformation. True reformers are people who embrace change – first in their own lives and then in the world around them.
Paul gives us a picture of what this reformed person will look like and how he will behave in the Romans 12 dissertation. He writes, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:9-18)
Reformers are people who have first allowed God to reform them. They are the ones who have captured the attributes of Christ and are motivated to bring these characteristics to a lost and dying world. They have become both God centered and other centered. As Paul put it, they are people who have truly come to a place of humility and because of it they no longer look out for merely their own interests, but now have a sincere interest in others, seeing them as more important than themselves. They are people who have the same attitude as Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:1-4) This is a picture of someone who has rendered down their life to the things that are important to God. This is the small footprint.
A reformer is an agent of social change, a person who will never be satisfied with a complacent status quo society that’s destined for destruction. A reformer is a fighter who has the heart of a Spirit filled warrior. They are not overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair, but have received the call to place themselves on the very front lines of a world in crises, seeing it as Kingdom opportunity. They have embraced the advent-ure. They are people who believe that God delights in doing extraordinary things with ordinary people – if they will have the faith to believe it and a willingness to step out. They are naturally supernatural people believing that they don’t need to be super heroes, but normal people who are willing to believe God to work through the gifting he has already placed in them. They have captured his heart of compassion, mercy and justice for a dark and broken world and want to make a difference with the life they’ve been given. They are willing to make the transition from a consumer lifestyle to a life of simplicity and meaning in an effort to make a small footprint. They do this so that they might be free and empowered to make a big handprint, leaving the world a better place because of the divine gift of life that they have been given.