What Does Transformation Look Like?

What Does Transformation Look Like?

It’s supernatural yet commonplace for Christ-followers to receive clear confirmations about decisions and direction from the Holy Spirit through signs and wonders.  The miraculous is often required to rock the shaky foundation upon which we’ve built our paradigms and plans.  The Lord generously gives us wake-up calls – whether experiential, relational, or scriptural.

Our Father always does His part.  The question is will we do ours?

The natural response of believers to revelations in any form should be awe, obedience, vigilance, thankfulness, and humility.  Divine interventions are tremendous blessings and privileges.  Writing them off as coincidence, taking credit for the wisdom the Lord shares, or not following His revealed will are signs of disrespect and defiance.  When we recognize enough of God’s manifestations for what they truly are, the voice and presence of almighty God, complete life transformation is the only reasonable recourse.  Few characters in our favorite Bible stories emerged from encounters with the Lord unchanged.  When intellectual understanding (about God) meets with real world experience (with God), transformation should always be the result.

As we take steps of faith, the Lord reveals the next (and typically larger) steps.  By that time, our transformation journey is well underway.  That journey involves a heart transplant and usually a significant disruption of life as we know it.  Additional interventions keep us pushing forward despite obstacles and reservations.  God loves us enough to continue revealing His care, character, and encouragement.  On the other hand, by certifying our activities as the Lord’s will, revelations also confer an accountability for our faithfulness in carrying out the mission and responsibilities He has entrusted to us, requiring perseverance through difficult days.  Once Jesus confirms He’s appointed us for special assignments, we bear the weight of that commission.

What is Transformation?

The metamorphosis of Christians into disciples begins when head knowledge and religious practices translate into closely following in the footsteps of Jesus.  Since we can’t walk where Jesus walked unless we know where He has been, authentic disciples study His life extensively (Knowing), fall in love with Him (Being), and want to honor Him with their lives (Doing).

Transformation means we now live in fellowship, obedience, and service to God.  In the Kingdom’s beautifully circular logic, those transformed are only able to live out God’s love through the love of God – because God is the sole source of unconditional love.  Transformation empowers us by the Holy Spirit to be more faithful in prayer, passionate in worship, loving in relationships, studious in Scripture, vocal in evangelism, and generous in giving.

All of those are evidence of transformation.  However, actions themselves are never proof (or the essence) of transformation.  If our hearts and minds aren’t “transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18) then we’re performing “good” deeds by our own power.  Attempts to appear “righteous” reflect our own glory, not the Lord’s.  Acting as if we’re serving the Lord when our motives are impure is self-righteousness, Jesus’ pet peeve.  Transformed hearts and minds, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are those that…

  • Obey with Joy – Truly grasping God’s love changes how we live and how we love.  Obedience becomes an automatic response, requiring little conscious effort.  We no longer go through the motions of faith, but rejoice in the commands of the Lord as we abide in Him.  Relying on God’s goodness and not our own gives us ultimate freedom.
  • Identify as a Child of the Father – Being transformed into the fullness of our identities as children of God means finding our true selves.  In Christ we “put off the old self” as we become more and more like Him.  Destructive habits and false identities die as we are (re)formed into God’s image, as He always intended.
  • Know and are Known – Airs and pretenses are replaced by honesty and confession for those transformed by the love of God.  We want people to see Jesus through us so we let the veil the separated us from the Father remain torn, not trying to rebuild a veil of perfection to hide our sin from the world or the Lord (who sees everything).
  • Live Counterculturally but not Counter Culture – The path of least resistance is conformance and compromise in a Postmodern culture intolerant of attempts to define any truth as absolute.  Society calls (God’s) love hatred and (man’s) evil good.  The only “sin” it acknowledges is accusing others of sin.  Despite strong headwinds, the resolve of the transformed doesn’t waver.
  • Are Above All Else, Humble – The testimony of those transformed, in a word, is humility.  Vanity and conceit are antithetical to the life and example of the One we follow.  Yes, we must speak truth but with grace valuing others more highly than ourselves.  Christians should be the most humble humans on earth since all other religions teach mankind can ascend (through morality or enlightenment) whereas we thank Jesus for descending.
  • Live Homeward Bound – Like the great heroes of faith in Scripture, we press on resolutely toward our eternal home in heaven.  Living for the “line” and not the “dot”, our eternal perspective and priorities dissuade us from temporal sin and fuel radical steps of faith.  Transformation doesn’t allow us to run far from home without longing to return, knowing how to find the way back to our Father.
  • Seek Jesus – Ambitions of the transformed aren’t worldly success but God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  They have voracious appetites (for the Word) and passionate affections (for Jesus).  The Lord planted in them the seeds of an uncommon faith through revelations of His love and mercy, and their faith continues to grow by abiding in the Vine.
  • Foster Flourishing – Compassion and evangelism shines light in the darkness.  Individual transformation eventually blossoms into church and community transformation.  A Harvard study of flourishing focuses on the happiness of each person, whereas true flourishing causes others to flourish.
  • Surrender – As we develop a deeper sense of God’s love and power, we realize He alone produces the outcomes of our efforts.  Any pride of ownership dissipates.  All fruit from living out Jesus’ model of Prayer, Care, and Share are solely His doing.  We don’t feel the need to start something new, but humbly search and join in where God is already working.

Anytime we focus on religious activities or results, we may miss what’s most important – our walk with Christ.  By the time we see transformation in others from our evangelism, compassion, and discipleship, we often find out we’ve been transformed as well!

Confirming Transformation’s Authenticity

Some won’t believe our revelations or transformation.  That was the case for Jesus so it certainly will be true for us as well.  Even when Jesus spoke well beyond His years and performed undeniable miracles, people questioned the source of His wisdom and power – especially those who watched Him grow up in their hometown.  They couldn’t fathom that someone from their social circles could so vastly exceed their own capabilities.

It’s no different today.  Even in this Age of Decadence, most non-Christians have heard stories about Jesus’ miracles.  However, non-believers don’t observe anything that borders on the miraculous among Christians or our churches.  Secular humanists reject our religion as truth, inventing their own identities and worldviews, because…

  • If our claims about Jesus’ resurrection and ascension were true, why aren’t more churchgoers radically transformed?
  • If we had experienced actual revelations from our almighty Creator, why aren’t we eager to share those remarkable stories with them?
  • If we have absolute assurance of eternal life, why are so many believers anxious or greedy?
  • If we’re not actively paying God’s love forward among our coworkers and neighbors, how can we say we’re children of a loving Father?
  • If Jesus is God and humbled Himself as a servant and sacrifice for those He created, why are we so reluctant to recognize and acknowledge our weaknesses?
  • If our sin cost Jesus that much, we have a new nature in Christ, and the Holy Spirit lives in us how can we be self-righteous, more focused on their sins than our own?

Without convincing evidence of the supernatural or transformation, America is replacing our Savior with lesser saviors, trusting in governments or politicians rather than God or churches.

It’s Your Turn…

If you had to sum up in a single word what transformation in Christ is all about, what would that word be?

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