Presence. Encounter. Transformation.
Today we speak about Transformation…
When we decide to become followers of Jesus, what we are essentially doing is turning away from every bit of self-justification. We recognize that we cannot stand before a Holy, Almighty God, radiant in the glory of his own outshining, and rely on our own good behaviour. We would be deluded if we do. That would be like Adolph Hitler imagining that he were Mother Teresa! Instead, we rely on the gracious gift of Jesus’ righteousness that he gives to us as we put our trust in him. It would be as if Jesus has put a trillion dollars in our bank account when we put our life in his safe hands. What an unbelievable gift from a gracious God!
The Apostle Paul refers to this gift as God’s mercy. How are we to respond to such an incredible act of generosity on God’s part? He says this: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind … (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
The only appropriate response to what Jesus has done for us is authentic worship, that is, to love him with all our heart. As we devote ourselves to Jesus, the way we think actually changes.
When I got married to Elsie sixteen years ago I had clear-cut thoughts and feelings about certain things. However, the truth is that after continually bumping up against Elsie’s thoughts and feelings I’ve realized that I don’t think and feel the same way as before. I’d venture to say that I think more lovingly and graciously about those subjects because I’ve been influenced by someone more loving and gracious than I am.
In a more profound manner, bumping up against Jesus’ thoughts and feelings changes the way that we think, feel, make decisions and act. We are being changed from the inside out. In fact, that change is supposed to be a truly radical one. The word that we translate, “transformed” can also be translated, “metamorphosed”. Like the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, we too are being metamorphosed from one state of being to another. As someone has said, Jesus is not just about making bad people good, he’s about making dead people live!
The struggle is real though. The caterpillar goes through an intense struggle in its cocoon. We wrestle with our own instinctively self-centred nature.
For this reason, as I wrote last week [read the article on Encounter here], we absolutely need to regularly encounter God who sustains us in the fight. We also need a body of likeminded believers – the church – to encourage and sharpen each other.
Pursue his presence! [read the article on Presence here] It’s in his presence that we enjoy encounters with him. Those encounters lead to Christ-like transformation. Amen!