Multiple summers I have come home from vacation to massive spots in my lawn that are completely parched. I am not referring to small spots that can be corrected with a few patches of grass; I mean embarrassingly ruined sections of my lawn.
One summer evening, after staring at dead patches in my yard, I searched online for a solution and discovered many products that would “paint my lawn green.” The lawn paint does not cause new growth, restore life to the roots, or foster a healthy yard. It is merely a covering for the sickness, a facade to give the impression of life when there is nothing but death. While some may be tempted to order the paint, it is a temporary fix. My lawn did not need paint. My lawn needed life. My lawn needed nurture in the forms of water and fertilizer. It would be ludicrous to remedy the external look of my lawn and declare it healthy.
In the same way, it’s ludicrous for a church to aim for behavior rather than aim for heart transformation. We must be careful that our desire for spiritual fruit does not lead us to teach for fruitfulness apart from transformation. As a church leader, you must be concerned with the dry spots in the field, but you must not paint the dry spots green. Or teach the dry spots to act green.
Spiritual transformation only occurs through the Spirit.
Romans 8:8-10 teaches:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
We, and the people we lead, desperately need the Holy Spirit to fill us, guide us, and sustain us. We cannot fix the dead spots. In our own strength and merit, we cannot overcome sin or defeat the Evil One. Our lives need to be continually made alive by the Spirit of God.