What if you are just going about your normal every day life at work or school and all of a sudden a well known celebrity appears and says, “I choose you for the transformation of your life!”
You’d probably scream or faint like those Chris Powell from Extreme Weight Loss chooses. These people have seen what happens and are anticipating a radical transformation of losing half their body weight in a year.
Transformation can be eipc.
We’d like for our transformation to be extreme like that or perhaps more of a spiritual one, such as that of Saul of Tarsus. One day he’s walking along the Road to Damascus persecuting Christians and the next minute he’s seeing a bright light and hearing Jesus chose him.1
The one killing Christians became the person who wrote most of the New Testament and spread the gospel to the non-Jewish world, of which you and I are a part.
This was a transformation of epic proportion. The issue is most of us who are Christians have not had such a phenomenal change.
In reality, though, Jesus has already done that for us. He chose us and we accepted the transformation. We just don’t recognize the power of what He has done and can continue to do in our lives.
One thing about Paul’s experience is true for us. We were once headed for a life of evil. Then, we made a course correction, an entire reversal of the way we ere headed. We repented. We turned our lives around, 180 degrees and began walking in the opposite direction.
We did so when we aligned our lives with Christ.
A big issue among most of us who call ourselves Christian is that the moment we accepted Christ has now become just a moment in time. It passed and we began to live our normal lives.
Especially for those of us saved at a young age, our lives didn’t substantially change.
We didn’t turn around. We kept going, doing what we had always done. This is probably because we were raised in great homes and didn’t really need to repent of much.
I was seven when I accepted Christ. I hadn’t done what I considered a lot of horrible sin at that stage in my life. I stole candy from the grocery store.
Thanks to the fact I had been in church since before I was born, I knew what to do. I accepted Christ.
I only wanted fire insurance. I got transformation.
My life didn’t appear to change in any dramatic way. I was still in the same family, attending the same church, going to the same school. It takes some insight to see, though, my life could have been headed towards a downward spiral. Instead, it was set on a different course.
Now, here’s the caveat. I got comfortable in this course. It was my culture, the way I always saw my life. I followed every rule the church laid down. I didn’t drink, do drugs, have sex before marriage. I went to church every Sunday morning and night, Wednesday night, Friday night and any other night there was something going on.
I love the local church. It was God’s concept so I don’t disparage it. However, sometimes we get sidetracked into thinking the things we hear from the pulpit are rules that must be followed in order to get into heaven.
If we have an exceptionally great pastor, such as I have now and have had in the past, we will begin to understand that rules are not what God desires. Relationship is.
As a kid, when I would I hear testimonies from special speakers about those saved from drugs or a life of crime, I would marvel at the power of God at work in their life. I would be sad I didn’t have such a remarkable testimony.
God is after the heart.
I could say like the rich young ruler, I’ve kept all the commandments from my youth up,2 well, except when I stole candy. That doesn’t really make a spell-binding testimony. I was a candy-stealing seven-year old bound for a life of penny candy crime and now I am a good, law-abiding citizen who pays cash for all the candy I want.
Interesting that Jesus gives this young man an even harder rule to follow than what he had been accustomed to. It wasn’t a rule any rabbi had ever told him or that he had ever read in a church covenant.
“Sell everything, give it to the poor and come follow me,” He said.
The first century church could have taken this one statement and made it a rule of membership of every local church.
However, that was not Jesus’ intent. He was not after a rule this man should follow. He was after his heart.
Jesus knew this man had a heart that wanted something other than following God. He wanted his wealth. He loved it first. He just thought he’d add another thing on to his resume.
Be it certified that the rich, young rule may now enter heaven.
Isn’t that what we want? We don’t really want transformation. Don’t mess with the way my life is. Don’t ask me to give up my candy, just save me from the results if I choose to steal it.
And He does. He saves us from that.
It’s so sad, though, that we don’t recognize the transformation that has taken place in our lives.
We were saved from death to life. We were headed one way. Upon our profession of faith, He picked us up and turned us around.
Then He beckons us to walk with Him on a journey. He says “I choose YOU for the transformation of your life.”
Just like Chris, Jesus instructs and teaches us and asks us to walk out this journey ourselves, walking the way He has shown us. To the contestants on the show, Chris is just a phone call away.
The Holy Spirit, though, is always with us. Instead, we many time choose to just follow a few chosen rules and forgo the risky path of relationship.
If you are truly after a life-changing experience, you won’t get it by following all the rules.
Transformation only comes in relationship.
Relationship with Christ means giving up a lot of things. It means walking a road that goes against cultural trends. At times it may even mean challenging your own long-held comforts and norms.
It means looking at things differently. It means when God leads you to give the guy with the cardboard sign standing beside your car at the stoplight a $5 bill you do it without question before the light changes and you miss the chance.
There’s no time to question is this God or not God. Does he look like someone who’ll buy drugs with this or not? You just do it out of obedience and leave the results up to the creator of the universe.
When He leads you to stop and help a family stranded in the parking lot jump their car, even though you have a thousand things to do and it looks inconvenient and you have no idea how to use the jumper cables, you do it anyway.
And when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, God is leading you to stop eating something you’ve agreed with Him you won’t eat but now you’re doing it again, you stop without question.
Is this a risky lifestyle?
You bet it is. Faith is risky. If you don’t think so, just read Hebrews 11 and then read every story the writer mentions.
Every story tells of how the character did something based on a feeling that God was directing them.
As Christians, I believe we are too focused on knowing and not focused enough on feeling. Can we feel the presence of God? Do we have an emotional connection with the God of the universe?
We know He’s into transformation. Look what He did in Paul’s life and the lives of every Biblical character. We just assume He’s not into transforming our life.
Maybe we are not willing to allow Him to transform us. Maybe we like how we are.
If we believe in the power of God, why are we so afraid to allow Him to change us? Maybe because we feel like we are OK. Nothing needs to change.
God beckons us to transformation.
He lets us come to Him just like we are. Then He invites us to change. Because He knows for us to have abundant, overflowing life we cannot stay the way we are.
And when we change, He invites us to change again. And again until change is a normal part of our lives.
When transformation is the way we live our lives, overflowing abundance is the realm in which we constantly live.
The beautiful thing about living in the state of transformation is we can only live there when we totally let go doing things our way and allow His power to energize and empower us.
That, my friends, is the definition of transformation—God in us, filling every pore of our being until we totally reflect Him.
1 Acts 9:1-7
2 Mark 10:20
Sweet Change Weight Loss Coaching & Accountability Group is Teresa Shields Parker’s new group on living healthy through a total renovation of body, soul and spirit. Teresa chronicles her journey in the memoir, Sweet Grace, and the practical application workbook, Sweet Grace Study Guide. Also, get a free chapter of her memoir at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.