All Sinners are welcome. Please be loving toward all sinners, even Go-Bot fans and Kiss Player collectors. We're not condoning sin, but loving sinners. We're certainly not condoning Go-Bots.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bah-Weep-Grana-Weep-Nini-Bong.  (Universal Greeting)

Grace and Peace to you from God the Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Universal Blessing.)

Welcome to what I hope will become a Transformative (yes. pun intended.) experience for everyone who joins in. I hope that as we make this valiant attempt together that we draw nearer to God and to our fellow sisters (and who knows? brothers?) in Christ.
If we are very quiet, they may not see our femaleness....

I’ll try and get us rolling, but I hope that others out there grab the wheel out of my hands for at least a few episodes. I want this to Transform everyone. Not just myself. (The transforming myself is just a cushy bonus.)

                                                  No I don't have this shirt. But I should. 

A little on my background. I am, and was raised, Lutheran. Lutheranism is a Protestant denomination with all the self-loathing of Catholicism and none of the funny hats. But I believe that all who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior are right with God. I am no biblical scholar. I haven’t even completed the Bible straight through, (I keep getting bogged down right before the Psalms, and then just skip to the good stuff.) I have read a majority of it. Especially the New Testament. I love me some C.S. Lewis.

So British! How can you NOT LOVE HIM?!?

And I have taken classes on New Testament and Church history and slogged through the super involved Lutheran Confirmation process. My parents have been great teachers and guides. I don’t pretend to speak from authority, but I do pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit before I speak or type about God.

 I went to public schools, and a pretty lukewarm church, and have never had very many Christian friends. I've always been surrounded by religious apathy and agnosticism, and that means I sometimes am afraid to talk about God with others. Honestly, the thought of communicating to God without a liturgical script (Lutherans LOVE Liturgy) with other people around me makes me intensely uncomfortable. I can’t transform if people are watching me, but that’s something that’s gotta change.

Because, ultimately, that’s what this is about. This Bible Study is about change. About Transformation. And yes, I feel a sense of inner glee every time I use the word transformation.

Romans 12:1-2 “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God – what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”

I already know that this is good and pleasing and perfect to ME.
But what does God think of it?

Romans 12:2 is my theme verse, and it has been for years. I’ve always been a non-conformist. But I only wanna pay attention to the part of the verse that comes easy for me. It’s easy for me not to conform to the world, I’m a slaggin’ female Transfan! But letting God transform me? Offering myself up as a sacrifice and doing his will instead of my own? Not as easy. I wanna go my own way, make my own decisions and be my own god. But God doesn’t just want me to be different from the world, he wants to transform me to be like him. And I’ve got bad kibble clinging on to me, pieces that have got to get twisted around, unfolded, or just plain yanked off before the transformation can take place.

                                        My kibble? Twice as ugly. And not made of Penguins.

The truth of the matter is that simple non-conformity is the world’s wisdom. The new life we live in Christ is conforming, but conforming to Christ alone at the sacrifice of every sin we hold dear. The world has a morality of its own, separate from the Christ-World we are supposed to be conformed to. That world’s ‘wisdom’ is presented in all secular content we come into contact with. A quick look around at the messages sent to children and adults shows a us a secular facsimile morality, similar in some respects but different in key characteristics. Like the facsimiles in the IDW comics we can skip along with ‘world wisdom’, lured into thinking it’s just the same, right up to the point it turns on us and blasts gaping holes into our hearts.

Facsimile Human. Also a pretty accurate picture of what I'm like at work.

A Go-Bot may look like a Transformer. It may transform from vehicle to robot and the cartoon’s plot may be a struggle between a force for good and a force for evil, but it is not the same as a HasTak Transformer. You gotta look closely to pick out the key differences between the similarities. Okay, not too closely to the Go-Bots.
                      These are Go-Bots. Not Transformers. Can't you see the fail? So much FAIL.

 A dangerous thing for a toy collector is not knowing the difference between a knock-off and the genuine article. A dangerous thing for a Christian is not discerning between the world’s morality and the new life we are called to live in Christ. Because for better or worse we’re stuck in this world for now, and every day we’re asked to love people and hate sin. But sin is never found alone, everywhere it mixes itself deeply with reason, and love, and good intentions.

 Transformers knockoffs. These are completely devoid of reason and love.

So much of being a follower of Christ is letting God break through our minds so he can reach our hearts. Sometimes you gotta get a little rough to transform a bot. Sometimes, (actually, EVERY FRAGGIN' TIME!) Universe Prowl’s doorwings come off mid-transformation and ya gotta pop ‘em back on. And sometimes you try and Transform Human Alliance Skids without instructions and you just end up with a pile of twisted fugly lying on the floor.

This is what it looks like correctly transformed. The twisted fugly was actually less offensive.

But we’re going through THIS with the instructions. We’re using the Bible and the Spirit as our guide. I hope that this will be a renewing experience for all of us, as we go through the Transformers Series with Jesus looking over our shoulder telling us what HE thinks of our franchise. See, there will come a day when we must surrender up everything to God, even Transformers, and trust that he will give us back what is good.
I believe that he’ll hand us back most of the Transformers. (except Kiss Players, obviously.)

                              NOT that we want it back. Ever. God can keep it. Far, far away from us.

Because there is so much there that is good. Even if it doesn't point directly to God himself it at least points to a universal right and wrong, and themes of self-sacrifice and love. The earliest Christian teachers found lots of useful things in the Greek Philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle. They didn’t accept them at the cost of Scriptures, but they didn’t chuck them for having pagan origins either. We’re working on developing discernment, and being able to pull the good ideas from the bad, and the bad from the good. Even in Transformers.

                                Optimus kills himself after winning a video game by killing NPCs.
BAD Idea.

 Very GOOD Idea.

Seriously, look at those capes!


Let’s Pray: Dear God, please bless this Bible Study. Help us to draw closer to you and become more like you. Guide our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, and show us the way we should go. Hold us in your mighty hands and transform us into the beautiful shape you always had planned for us. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Questions for discussion:
What do you think about discernment? Do you think that Chromia is full of slag when she says that we should submit every bit of pop culture we devour to religious scrutiny?

In what way is the World’s morality different from the Christian life? In what ways are they the same? Can you think of a time in a Transformers series where a ‘moral’ is presented as good or okay that is contrary to Christian life?

Are there things in your life you would not be willing to give up, or give over to God for his judgment? Why?
Can people go ‘too far’ in giving things over to God? Is this even possible?