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Spiritual Transformation or Sin-acism?

I attended a Spiritual Formation (SF) Forum last week. SF is a movement that helps the Church form the character and nature of Christ in Christians. This movement is laudable. It stressed discipleship, deep repentance, spiritual discipline, authenticity and becoming truly Christ like. There’s even much talk about spiritual transformation. Sadly, remarkably few seem to understand why healing is necessary for transformation. For many, there seems to be a ‘been there, done that’ attitude towards healing.

A notable exception was Alan Andrews, the Director of Navigator’s, a huge global ministry that emphasizes discipleship. As he examined post-modern trends he shared how he became sensitized to the need for healing during a family crisis he calls the most painful experience of his life.

At breakfast the next morning, we discussed the Gen Ex church he attends. When he asked his pastor what was the greatest problem he faced in ministry he said finding ways to heal the pain in his parishioners.

This generation has been devastated by secularism, painfully wounded by pandemic divorce, drug abuse; work addicted and absentee parents, and the abject cynicism of a culture that long ago relinquished its innocence. This leads to what I call ‘sinacism’ – the vain attempt to anesthetize our pain through sex, drugs, food, destructive lifestyles or blatant materialism. Can Jim Beam, a Beamer or a donut really make us better?

So why is healing necessary? The Apostle Paul challenges us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. He says Jesus has begun a good work in us - nothing less than restoring our soul - and He will complete it. SF’s emphasis on deep repentance, strenuous spiritual disciplines, spiritual direction (directed religious counseling), practicing God’s Presence and solitude are all great things but they can’t fully restore the soul. 

Why? The Bible tells us that as we think in our heart, so we are. This clearly implies that our mind includes our heart, and there’s the rub. The heart is desperately wicked. Out of it flow all the things that that either destroy or enhance our life. If the heart is pure we see God, if it isn’t, we may self-destruct.

Most evangelicals believe that when we are born again we get a spiritual heart transplant and we don’t need anything else. While this is partially true, it is also partly false. We get a new heart when we give ours to Jesus, but we need more that that. Why? Before and after our conversion we experienced many painful things, often at the hands of Christians from whom we expected better. This residual pain doesn’t just disappear; it is stored within us, in our heart of hearts, pumping out pollution. Unless these deep wounds are cleansed and healed, our spiritual life grows cold and inhibits our follow-ship. Hurt people can’t risk love, and that’s the essence of discipleship. Love hurts. Just ask Jesus.

The disciplines of spiritual formation are excellent but they don’t heal our deepest hurts. If they had, God wouldn’t have given His Church gifted healers. More basic than that, He wouldn’t have anointed Jesus to heal the broken hearted, set at liberty the bruised, and release the captives.

There is power in biblical names, and no name is more powerful than Christ’s, but that power is not fully released until and unless we embrace it with our understanding. In this case, that means understanding that Christ was anointed to heal our deepest hurts. He does that through his earthly body, the Church.

During his painful crisis, Alan Andrews said the only thing that comforted him was the scripture that promises healing for the broken hearted. This experience changed his paradigm. He now finds ways to minister healing to his staff. He realizes that if Christians become wounded healers, we will be the leaves of God’s tree of life, useful for healing a hurting, devastated, broken world. If we don’t, the world will turn to new age ideologies that only make them worse. And we will be like that sorry generation of false priests who promised shalom but only healed the wounds of God’s people superficially.

God heals us, not to prove anything, but simply because He loves us. To leave us broken would not accurately reflect His great love. If we love, we must heal too. We must find ways to do the works that Jesus did and greater. Then His Kingdom can come, on earth as it is in heaven.

Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at  The Ultimate Breakthrough "


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