By Stan Friedman
WASHINGTON, D.C (July 25, 2010) – In her last sermon to a Triennial as the Department of Women Ministries executive minister, Ruth Hill declared to the gathering that “your very lives are a letter of transformation,” and then asked, “so what are people reading in you?”
Hill rooted her sermon in 2 Corinthians 3:18, the text that had been foundational for the Triennial XIII “Reflecting God’s Glory” theme – “And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The verses come in a section of Paul’s letter in which he mounts a defense of his apostolic authority, noted Hill. Paul told the Corinthians that their transformed lives were his letter.
Hill tied Paul’s comments to the creation narrative that recounts how people were made in the image – likeness – of God. That image had been corrupted, however, when Adam and Eve were sidetracked by the seductive sounds of “psssst.” That is the sound serpents make and the one people still use to catch someone’s attention without others noticing.
Through our witness of transformed lives and our actions, we are a letter of God,” Hill said. Thus, they also serve as signs of God’s promises of transformation.
Hill told the hundreds of women gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel that they have the opportunity to either hinder or nurture transformation. The stage was decorated with mirrors throughout the conference. Hill noted that to keep the houselights from reflecting off them and glaring into the audience’s eyes, hairspray was sprayed on them. “Just one pssssst and the reflection is dulled,” she said.
“When we hear that sound, we turn towards it,” Hill said. “Our enemy, Satan, ‘pssssts’ us all the time – ‘Did God really say that?’ He’s trying to turn our gaze away from the living God. When we turn away from Truth – capital T – we are susceptible to a lie.”
She pointed to Solomon as a prime example of a follower of God who slowly gave in to sin. Hill noted that Solomon asked for wisdom and the Bible says God had given it beyond measure. “Here’s a guy who could never say I didn’t know any better.”
But he descended ever deeper into sin. At one point he had 1,000 women under one roof. “How wise is that?” Hill said to loud laughter. “That’s a lot of PMS under one roof.”
Turning serious again, Hill recalled that Solomon would not repent as he grew older. “Such a sad ending for the wisest man who ever lived,” she declared.
The way to nurture transformation is personal and corporate worship, Hill said. “Worship is declaring the worth of God,” Hill explained. “Worship is contemplating the glory of God.”
Worship ultimately leads to honesty, Hill added. “We see the truth about ourselves and we fall to our knees in confession.”
That honesty is critical if the world is to know the love of God that transforms society. “This is not just about me, you, us as individuals,” Hill said. “It’s all about us as the people of God. It’s about the church.”
Only transformed churches will witness to the love of God. “We are an advertisement, if you will, an advertisement for Christianity,” Hill said. The world judges the church by the kind of believers it creates. The honor of Christ is in the hands of his followers.”