The second of a series about change. This one is about transformation. There is no shortage of people these days who display a kind of ugliness. I am not speaking of physical ugliness. One could have the outer beauty of catwalk divas or Hollywood stars and starlets, and still be ugly to the core. And that’s the issue: who people are at their core.
Generally speaking, we all have issues at our core. Remember how I so eloquently stated in a previous post that we all suck? We all miss the mark of perfect love. Love is God’s purest yardstick. All other virtues flow from the virtue of love. God is love. (1John 4:8) Jesus is the embodiment of God on earth. So to look at Jesus is to look at the best example of Love there is. Sin, missing the mark, is the antithesis of love. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1John 4:18 Fear and pride are the source of all sin. A distorted view of ourselves, of others, and of God corrupts us to our core
We all need to deal with our inner core problem. I wrote about dealing with that inner core problem here. That requires a change. A change in direction. A simultaneous turning from sin, (sin being defined as a willingness to miss the mark without concern for the consequences, a lack of accountability to God); and a turning to God with a faith in Jesus Christ. Essentially, this turning is called repentance. It’s not just a one time event. That one time event, turning to Christ is essential and gets the ball rolling. But a lifestyle of repentance is essential for spiritual transformation.
In someways, everything that we need for living a life pleasing God is already within our hearts once we turn to to Jesus. But in other ways, it’s a daily grasping, a daily taking hold of what is freely available. We work out our salvation with fear (fear of God, a Godly fear, different than the fear mentioned above,) and trembling. With great reverence and awe for the love and power of God, who counts us as friends.
Here’s my favorite verse in the Bible.
“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. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
– Romans 12:1-2
Verse 1 is all about God’s mercy and his grace towards us, displayed and proven by his death on the cross. It says in view of this, we should offer our whole selves to him. Not like a dead sacrifice of the Jewish sacrificial system, but a living sacrifice. It is considered holy and pleasing to God, and an act of true and proper worship. Some translations say reasonable act of worship. Another says spiritual act of worship, and another says reasonable act of service. Our giving ourselves to God is a physical act that involves our bodies, our minds (reasonable act of service), and spirit (spiritual act of worship.)
Once we fully give ourselves over to God, we have a command to follow. Verse 2 tells to not conform to the pattern of this world. Another translation says don’t let the world squeeze us into its mold. The rest of the world has its way of doing things, and it’s bass ackwards to way, the truth, and the life. How are we to discern God’s way? We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. To renew our minds involves several things, but one idea that’s involved is about changing our mind, or rather, a change of heart. We have a certain way of thinking about things that’s at ends with God’s way. We need to learn God’s way. We do this by learning God’s Word. God’s Word and the instructions that come from it carries a certain vibe. It’s full of wisdom that is pure, peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17) God’s word, when properly handled, is useful for instruction, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, with the end result of those who desire to serve God are thoroughly prepared to the kind of things that are on God’s agenda, not the world’s. (2Timothy 2:15 and 2Timothy 3:16)
Transformation in the believers life requires that initial turning to Jesus, and thereafter, a daily turning to Him for guidance. Renewing our minds is central to that transformation. A lot of folks say they don’t need a spiritual encounter with Jesus to become a better person, some of these are good people who don’t look like the rest of the world. But pride is an affront to God. We are talking about a sin that needs forgiven by a holy God who desires to forgive. His love will trump sin’s affront, but it has to be received.
Again, it comes down to a choice to respond to God. There is a hymn.
“”Have you decided (a choice) to follow Jesus?”