Have you been transformed?
It seems like a simple question.
Or does it?
What does it really mean to be transformed?
Transformed into what?
Am I transformed or am I transforming?
Paul said it this way:
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
If you know Christ, you are a ‘new creation’.
The old…what you were previously…is gone and something DIFFERENT is in it’s place.
This is one of the most crucial understandings in all of scripture of what it means to be a Christian…or a “little Christ”…but why does it seem that so few christians (little ‘c’) seem to be concerned at all about actually following him?
We are in an interesting time right now. Many of the older vestiges of church in America are passing away. Churches are shrinking, the number of people that even claim to be a christian is dropping. Church attendance is slipping everywhere and in every type of church.
And those are just the most shallow, meaningless statistics of being a new creation who is, presumably, passionately following Christ.
Most people who go to church will not read any of their Bible before the next church service they attend.
Acts of mercy, service, and sacrificial giving are held up as “well I guess I should do those things, but…”.
Our compassion for the hurting, the homeless, the trafficked, the abused is non-existent as we seek to fill our lives with every memorable event that we want for ourselves.
Pastors are racking their brains, praying incessantly, and fielding much of the criticisms for the decline of the American church which leads me to wonder…
Is anyone being transformed any more?
Are we experiencing the fresh power of God that leads to joy and overcoming our trials?
Do we eagerly await our time with Him that brings renewal…and sometimes pain?
We’ve developed entire streams of “discipleship”. Christian Publishing Houses have been built around the model of providing more modern, more relevant, and more entertaining options to help you grow in your faith, all the while requiring less and less time and commitment.
Anyone remember the “Andy Griffith Show Bible Study Series”?
(Yep, it’s really a thing.)
And yet, I still wonder, have we really been transformed?
Are we reading our Bibles because we are supposed to or because it is the living word of God that we NEED to know?
Do we feel the need to actually KNOW God or just to placate Him so He doesn’t strike us with lightning or cause us to lose our jobs in a fit of anger.
I wonder if this is why Jesus constantly spent His time going to the down and dejected.
Because they actually wanted to be transformed?
Or, has the power of the gospel waned in recent years?
Have we simply stopped really caring about God and what He says is right, good, holy, and just?
It’s truly hard to seek to become something new if you are in love with the old.
I find that those who truly love Jesus don’t need a reason to study scripture, be regularly present with their faith community, or be driven to become more like Christ every single day.
That happens, not as an act of the will, but because we have become something new.
We have been TRANSFORMED.
But, perhaps I’m just being too hard on everyone. Maybe it really is just about grace and if we ask for salvation and a ticket to heaven, God is required by the code of grace to give it to us.
But what if He is not?
Jesus, Himself, said the most frightening thing that I have EVER read in scripture:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)
Perhaps our way forward as the Church (big ‘C’) is not to create more discipleship opportunities that require less of us, but instead, is focused more on showing the world what it truly MEANS to be transformed.
What it really looks like to let the old pass away so the new can come.
Some would say, “well, can’t you grow?”
Scripture constantly encourages that we can and should grow.
Being transformed doesn’t mean that we are immediately perfect.
I believe, though, our drives, our motivations, our hopes, our dreams, and our priorities are changed in a moment as we give up this life for a better one with Christ.
I don’t know where you fall in all of these, and most people stopped reading a long time ago, but let me return to my original question.
Have you been transformed?