by Dale Reeves
Every once in awhile, my wife and I get to watch our three grandkids for a day at our house. We have a three-year-old and two one-year-old grandsons. The three-year-old is potty-trained for the most part, with the exception of an accident now and then. Every now and then my wife has to run an errand and I am left with the three angels/devils on my own. My greatest fear is that more than one of them will have a post-lunch blowout at the same time. If you are a mom, a dad, or grandparent of a preschooler, you know what I mean. You’ve been there. We’re talking about the kind of explosion that goes out of the diaper and up the back, the kind you hope your child does not put his hands in. I call that kind “a blowout,” a triple bagger—meaning we have to put the soiled diaper in three tied grocery bags before depositing it in the trash can in the garage. In those times when I am solely in charge and one of the boys goes running by me and I get a whiff, I yell, “Pshuee, who needs changed?” The boys look at each other as if some alien dropped in with a present that none of them know anything about.
And, that’s when Pop Pop must begin the examination process to find out who needs to be changed, while praying to God that the answer is not, “All of them!”
Do you need to be changed these days? The world and all of its constant temptations leaves its mark on us. It soils us. It makes us feel dirty. We know God has called us to something better than a refuse heap of dirty diapers that we have left in our trail of sinfulness, but sometimes we don’t know how to get out of the sin cycle. We want to be changed, but we may not know how.
Yesterday at Christ’s Church, Trevor DeVage preached on Jesus’ transfiguration that occurred on a high mountain in front of three eyewitnesses—Peter, James, and John. They heard the audible voice of God as he announced that Jesus was in fact his Son, the chosen Messiah they had been waiting for. Jesus was transfigured before them from the inside out. Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and “his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them” (Mark 9:3, NLT). I love that detail the Gospel writer Mark gives us.
The application of that message for us is that God wants to transform all of us from the inside out. And, until that happens, we may present a good front just like the hypocritical teachers of the law in Jesus’ day who were performing all of their religious duties, but it was all a sham, because their hearts were not pure. Jesus said that they were like whitewashed tombs that looked good on the outside but on the inside they were filled with dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27).
Conformed or Transformed?
It seems to me that we quote Romans 12:1, 2 quite a bit at our church: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 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” (NIV).
It is so much easier to quote those verses than to put them into practice on a consistent basis, because it is so easy to “conform” to what is happening all around us every day. This past week in our “Jesus Walks” Bible reading plan we read a very troubling passage of Scripture: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18, 19, NIV).
I confessed to a few folks last week, “I don’t feel hated so much, do you? Is it because I have conformed too much to the world and I don’t stand out as different enough?”
From Ugly to Beautiful
The word metamorphosis comes from the Greek, combining two words, “meta,” which indicates change, and “morphe,” which means shape. The verb form of the Greek word, metamorphoun, can be translated, “to transform,” or “to be transfigured.” In our English language, the word has several definitions:
“A change in physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means; a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances.”
Typically, we think of the metamorphosis that takes place as a tadpole develops into a frog, or a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. The process of an egg developing into a larva, then a pupa, and finally an adult butterfly takes between 9-14 days. What a beautiful sight it is when a brilliant-colored butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. The process of change in humans is not nearly so fast, and often people go through some ugly phases to get to the beautiful stage!
This process of transformation is something we can’t do on our own. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t change ourselves. Only God’s Holy Spirit can transform our hearts and minds. We’re not “done” at the point of salvation. God continues an ongoing work to mold us into the image of Jesus. Through repentance, God wipes out what was dirty in us and allows us to get a new start. The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 1:6, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns,” (NLT).
Theologian R. C. Sproul said this: “The Holy Spirit is intangible and invisible. But His work is more powerful than the most ferocious wind. The Spirit brings order out of chaos and beauty out of ugliness. He can transform a sin-blistered man into a paragon of virtue. The Spirit changes people. The Author of life is also the Transformer of life.”
Time for a Change
God promises through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT). So, if you’re struggling with the ugliness of sin in your own life—whether that’s yelling at your kids, holding a grudge, being stingy with others, or drowning your sorrows in a bottle of something or a huge tub of ice cream, take heart—there is hope in Jesus!
I remember at the church I grew up in there was a Scripture verse that was posted outside the door of the church’s nursery: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51, NIV). Oh, that is definitely true regarding babies in a nursery. And, it applies to all of us when Jesus returns to the earth in his glory to take his followers home with him. But, until that day, do you need to be transformed in some way? Your Abba Father is waiting to change you.