Transformation is a term that is thrown around a lot these days.
We find it in the mission statements of churches, on T-shirts and web sites.
Seems like everyone wants to be transformed: business, medical practices, body image, computer industry, and even a movie series that really probably shouldn’t have been made. [My apologies to those of you fans of the Transformers movies. I’m not trying to offend, just be transparent with who I am and my journey.]
The obvious question to ask is: transformed into what exactly and why? The cultural connotation is that what I am or what I have is not good enough, and a transformation needs to happen so that I will be happier, smarter, faster, richer, better, etc.
A follower of Jesus, a disciple, is called to transformation into the likeness of our Rabbi, Jesus. It is not because we can’t be happy as we are. The truth is, we are not as we were created to be. Just as Adam was the first, so Jesus is the true Adam, as we were created to be. The first Adam; abandoned his relationship with God for a lie. Jesus; chose to never abandon His relationship/fellowship with His Father. It is this relationship, between humanity and God, through Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit, that enables real transformation to happen.
In my reading I was led to this quote by James Bryan Smith:
The glorious Trinity (Father, Son and Spirit) is on a mission to transform every one of us. That does not happen by anything we do of ourselves. Jesus did it all. And Jesus does it all—by continuing to pray for each of us. But we do participate in this transformation. We set our minds on these truths: we are forgiven, and Jesus is praying for us. And when Jesus prays, things happen. He will not stop until he has made us all new people.
Pivotal, for the disciple, are two verses that Paul writes, the first from Romans 12:2 NIV – “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.” The second from 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The Greek word here is metamorphoō, which means to change into another form. The first part of the word stresses the inward change that is to happen, and the preceding verb adds the stress on the outward change. The present continuous tense indicates that this is a process. Thus, for me, transformation is both an inward [my thinking, my attitude, my choices] and an outward [my behavior, my speech, my body language, my choices] journey into being more like Jesus. This takes time. [See my earlier post Discipleship Priorities: Time & Energy ]
Most disturbing to me is when churches talk about transformation, but they are not pursuing Christlikeness. Churches want their attendance numbers transformed, their church life cycle trajectory transformed, their budget numbers transformed. These are trivial, secular goals and far from Gospel transformation.
Transformation is a big deal. It is what we celebrate because we are resurrection people. Transformation is the entire ball game. Transformation is reversal from sin and death to life and being made new. Let us be clear what kind of transformation we are talking about: transformation into living and thinking like Jesus. Anything else is a cheap substitute that will not bring real joy, and thus our joy will not be complete.
This kind of transformation changes individuals, families, and communities. Jesus has changed my life. Jesus wants to change all of our lives, but not according to our agenda.
Consider these thoughts:
– What narrative from the world, about who I am in my life, do I believe, and needs to be transformed?
– Am I being consistent in working in concert with the “Holy Trinity” to transform me?
– How or where in my life have I sidelined real transformation, for a poor substitute of transformation?
As always I welcome your dialogue and thoughts as we journey toward and with Jesus…