In Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 12 verse 2, he writes “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I love this verse! It’s one of the first verses I ever memorized. I think everyone should memorize it as well because it’s simple, clear and easy to apply to ourselves. Your mind gets renewed through reading and memorizing the word of God so that you learn right from wrong. Your behavior changes. This verse has the word I’ve been concentrating and meditating on these past few weeks: Transformed = metamorphoo in the Greek, from which we get metamorphosis. It’s the same word used to describe the transformation or transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain when Elijah the prophet and Moses stood beside him. Luke says “… the appearance of this face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” (Luke 9:29) The real purpose of our life – to be transformed in thought, action, word and emotion. All of this will actually transform your countenance as well! Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 5:17 that we are new creations in Christ. The old is gone and the new has come! He’s talking about a spiritual metamorphosis that comes with new birth!
Metamorphosis is never without struggle and pain and blood, sweat & tears. It’s not a pain-free process. We’ve all heard the phrase “No pain no gain.” There’s probably a poster or banner in every gym across America with that phrase. The difference between physical transformation and spiritual transformation is that in physical transformation you do all the work to transform your own body with sit-ups and weights and using all kinds of “torture” machines in the gym. In spiritual transformation you cooperate with the Spirit who does the work in your heart. We all know how hard it is to get into physical shape. It takes a lot of effort and discipline to get on that treadmill or lift those weights or jog those miles. But it’s even more difficult to be transformed into spiritual maturity. That’s not because the Holy Spirit can’t do his job! No! It’s because we are so slow to cooperate. Most of us are very stubborn and resist the transformation that needs to take place in our hearts.
When life happens (hard times and trials and storms) we can be hardened by those extreme difficulties like divorce, death, major health problems, job losses… we can become bitter… angry… hateful (hard-hearted). Many times that’s what happens to us or people we know. On the other hand, those same hard times, trials, storms and extreme difficulties can drive us to our knees and cry out to God to carry us through and be our strength through it all. We can let storms and trials drive us away from God or drive us closer to Him. Let me tell you that Jesus wants to walk through the storm with you. Don’t let the storm transform you – that is, don’t let it harden you. Instead, Let Jesus transform you in the midst of the storm. Here’s how you’ll know the difference: storms will drive you with fear, anger, pride and self-sufficiency and self-reliance that produce a defiant hardness. Like Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump. You might remember that scene when a violent hurricane showed up. Lt Dan climbed the mast of his shrimp boat and shook his fist and screamed at God “It’s time for a showdown, God! Just you and me!” Lt. Dan let the storm drive him. He was defiant – angry – and it produced a hard-heartedness. In the end, he never recovered. But if you let Jesus in to your life, He will lead you through the storm with love, mercy and humility. Inner transformation takes place when we surrender… when we yield. God is looking for teachable. He’s looking for pliable. He’s looking for moldable.
One thing that Paul knew would stand in the way of transformation is stubborn pride. Pride will always trip you up. It’s like a tree root or rock that sticks out in a hiking path. You’re walking along thinking highly of yourself for all that you’ve been able to do and then bam! You trip yourself on that tree root called pride. Paul exhorts us not to be prideful or exaggerate your importance in the Church. Everyone has a role. Everyone has a gift. The proper way to use your gift is in humble service in the Church. If you have an exaggerated opinion of yourself or are self-absorbed or even narcissistic, you will most definitely be a hindrance to the Body of Christ. We should never think of ourselves as irreplaceable in the Church. Every one of us is replaceable. I’m replaceable. Most football teams nowadays have the “next man up” philosophy. A player gets hurt or sick and can’t play, so the next man up goes in and does the job. What’s most important is that you do what you’re gifted to do in the Church. We’re a team. This means that you don’t do what other people do better than you. You do what you do best in the Body of Christ. And do it as unto the Lord.