I was in the high school Humanities classes this week. After I gave a presentation on what Christians believe, the students asked questions. This one stuck in my mind:
“Does this faith in Christ really make any difference or is it just so many words or a tradition or a ritual? Look at all the other religions. Don’t they make the same claim?”
When we do a baby dedication. Why?
When we go to the uttermost parts of the earth. Why?
When we try to make church work. Why?
When we engage people every day, at work, at the store, at school…is it obvious we are “different”?
What does the Bible say?
The Bible writers used words….
“conformed” (Rom. 8:29)
“transformed” (Rom. 12:2; II Cor. 3:18)
“reborn” (Jn. 3:3, 7)
“saved” (Mt. 1:21; 18:11; Jn. 3:17; Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:9-10; 13; I Tim. 1:15)
“regenerated” (Titus 3:5)
“sanctified” (Jn. 17:17; Rom. 15:16; Eph. 5:26)
You put on a new self….Eph. 4:21-24
These indicate that a person who experiences an authentic faith encounter with God through Christ becomes a radically different person.
“OK, so what should such a transformed life look like?”
Is it a purely spiritual change (i.e., the human spirit is cleansed or made whole, while the outside looks pretty much the same)?
Is it mostly of an inclination to keep “Christian rules”?
We’ve heard people say, “I witness to my faith in Christ by my lifestyle.” I assume that means they practice a set of behaviors that they assume others will inevitably recognize as consistent with being Christian.
Does that mean “life transformation” has actually occurred?)
The transformed life involves a renewing of the heart, the will
The desire to do right, to resist temptation, to love the brethren, is present and growing.
Even when I mess up, the desire is still there.
In this changed life, the Spirit is constantly tapping us on the shoulder: “to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment” (Jn. 16:8-9) As a result, the transformed person is less likely to take lightly his shortcomings.
Have your desires changed?
A transformed life is at rest Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:9-16
It is not frantically focused on keeping a set of rules.
It finds peace in being rescued, calm in the storm, the ability not to panic when all seems lost.
It is the weary soul allowing the Lord to share the load.
Are you at rest? Or are you frantic, fearful, constantly weighed down, desperate to fix others, fix yourself…?
A transformed life looks at others with genuine love. Rom. 12:9-21
Not as objects, not as tools, not as enemies…..
Lets go of the need for control over others and demanding uniformity and/or conformity.
Rejects critical spirit, gossip and reaches out instead to heal, listen, lift up.
Invites others to sample this life, encourages others to discover purpose and peace and joy through personal encounter with the Living God.
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
The transformed life is one of freedom.
Rom. 12:1-2 Your mind is changed
Your spirit is free Jn. 8:31-32; Lk. 4:18-21
You look up at possibilities, not down at broken things.
You are not addicted to pathology, always looking for what is wrong.
You are disposed toward wholeness and possibility, dwelling on that which is praiseworthy (see Phil 2:14ff; 4:6-9.)
The transformed is a life lived with hope.
One of the most beautiful and comforting words in the language of our faith, hope underlines our response to every trial, motivates us to move into uncharted waters, and reminds us constantly that one day we will be truly, fully, completely, perfectly, transformed!
I Cor. 15:50-58
You cannot sit there and say that you have met God but it did not make any difference…can you?
“OK,” I challenge me, “if it is true, have you changed?”
I am continually interrogating myself on such things. One would assume I might have the answers by now……
The fact is, I have walked this road a long time, studying, praying, seeking, believing and yet, I confess, I occasionally (and secretly) wonder: just how “transformed” am I?
The old struggles of the flesh are still around: the old pride, slothfulness, selfishness, and hidden insecurities leer at me from a hundred shadowy corners. Shouldn’t they be gone, replaced by some palpable measure of humility, diligence, generosity, confidence, and other good, Christian stuff?
Do you have a testimony of change because you met God?