My kids weren't the only ones that enjoyed the film "Transformers" when it hit theaters last year. I enjoyed it too. Admittedly, I enjoyed it for different reasons than my boys did. They liked the special effects and the hot gadgets. Though I also thought those were cool too, I appreciated the whole premise that heroes effectively pursued their mission by "transforming" into something else, and I don't just mean the robots. The key characters also underwent a transformation of sorts, with the robots being the mythologically obvious living analogy. Plus, it didn't hurt that the plot line was exciting with eye-pleasing special effects.
The story also held meaningful parallels for the Christian's life of faith. Depending on what aspect of the story you use, applications to the Christian experience can be found everywhere. Many good stories are like that. Given their mythological nature, they lend themselves well to applicability to the viewers personal context. J.R.R. Tolkien loathed allegory for how often the story was laden with laborious agendas. However, he supported what he called "applicability" in stories to the audience's life setting, for it allowed the story to retain its artistic integrity. It spoke to the hearers' situation without preaching a limited agenda. In this way, most stories open themselves up to mythological applicability in this way.
The aspect of "Transformers" that I focus on now is the necessity of the heroic robots to take on an entirely different form in order to accomplish their mission. Depending on the situation, Optimus Prime may take the form of a Mac truck or a humanoid shaped robot to achieve the desired result. This can easily apply to believers in how they take on characteristics necessary to accomplish the role God has for them. Paul so de-culturated from Palestinian Judaism in his travels through Greece and Asia Minor that he would later have to re-culturate into Judaism in order to return to Jerusalem and minister there. This is radical transformation for an evangelist, but he was willing to transform to whatever degree it took to accomplish the mission.
However, people and organizations differ in how easily they can "transform." A person might change more readily than a group of them will. The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to pull this off. It's simply how people are. Nevertheless, often for organizations the transformation is no less essential to accomplish its mission than Paul's was. The question is: what degree of transformation can reasonably be proposed? What is the groups breaking point? When will the leader have pushed too far? How much can people really change and still stay on task?
Our church is wrestling with such questions. In order to accomplish its mission, can it successfully "transform" into something that looks quite different than how it looks now? No less than a radical transformation will be necessary to effectively pursue the mission God has given. Are we willing to be a team of "transformers?" The possibilities are limitless if the answer is "yes." However, people are not robots. They are living, breathing (even sometimes bleeding) creatures made in God's image being "transformed" into the likeness of Christ. Let us pray that the "spark" in us is sufficient to accomplish this transformation.