Discipleship is a life-long process of being renewed and restored into the image of Jesus Christ, the true image of the invisible God.
Christianity is not a religion of human reformation but of divine transformation. God is seeking a new breed of men and women who are wholly changed by Him. Jesus startled the Pharisee Nicodemus with the statement: ‘you must be born again of the Spirit’ (John 3:3-8). A new start is required.
God does not just want to mend the old ‘you’. In fact, as part of our salvation, he crucified (read ‘killed’) the old ‘you’, that is the one that was a slave to sin, and begun the work of making a new person altogether, one whose focus and locus are situated firmly in person and power of the resurrected Christ.
In Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, the Greek word ‘metamorphoō ‘ is used, commonly translated ‘transformed’. In Romans 12, the emphasis is on allowing our minds to be renewed and transformed through offering ourselves to God. On the other hand, the 2 Corinthians passage speaks of transformation that is done through God’s Spirit, as we behold His glory. We look to Him and He changes us.
Transformation requires our co-operation and response to what God has wrought through His power and glory. We cannot generate our own transformation any more than a child can will himself to grow a few inches overnight. But when we choose to let God change and redeem us, our natures are transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This is a change that is real and lasting. We see this in creation. A butterfly is not merely a caterpillar with wings; it is an entirely different creature. Within the tomb of its chrysalis, a transformation — metamorphosis — occurs, and what emerges is radically different. It is startling fact of science that a caterpillar eats only leaves and never drinks, whereas a butterfly never eats but survives by drinking nectar. Similarly, our whole outlook on life, what sustains us and feeds us, will be wholly different (Romans 8:5,6 cf John 4:13).
Therefore, Christian discipleship calls for a radical re-orientation of our lives. God doesn’t want part-time followers who ‘like’ what He says and does from time to time. Occasional visits to His house won’t do. No, He wants us as family, so much so that He’s signed our adoption papers. In fact, we share the full rights of son-ship as possessed by Christ, God’s perfect and righteous first-born.
This was God’s vision all along, not merely to reconcile us to Himself but to keep us in the security of His bosom as His very own, that we might glorify and enjoy Him forever. C. S. Lewis put it wonderfully: ‘The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.’
This is the real life that all disciples of Jesus seek to live out and to call those they live, work and play with, to likewise draw come and behold.
Who are you praying and seeking to share this radical new life with?