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).
It 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). We have hope, faith and love enough to last through an eternal tomorrow. But it must infect our ‘todays’ as well!
Peter Kuzmic, a Croatian theologian, said, ‘Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future. Faith is having the courage to dance to it today.’
Hope and faith go hand in hand. Because our hope is in God to deliver us in the future, we can trust him today for all the things that threaten us – even terrors of the night, the trials of life or the worst persecution. Our hope in God will lead us to turn and trust him more, and we will find that not only will he be with us through the storms, he will turn what may seem like terrible things into something good.
‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ (Hebrews 6:19). It mitigates against the suffering and the injustice we sometimes or often face, and reminds us that despite the vicissitudes of quotidian life, our God still reigns and he is quite capable of working all things for good to them that believe.
Indeed, our hope is in the King who is reigning now as Lord and will return to bring all things under His feet. And that same Christ calls us now to an indefatigable work by His power and direction, to rescue and ready a people for Himself when He comes.
We are called to make a difference in the world, to be and become, as God’s people, an alternative community of hope; a veritable city of refuge for the lost and the losers, those huddled masses of the lonely and oppressed. It is this hope and trust in God then that will prove, now and at the last, the great and lasting antidote against the poison of hopelessness that darkens so many a life today.
A disciple who makes disciples knows how the story ends, because they would abide in the transforming story of His Word. And by his Spirit and new creation, would they live and are instruments of his power and love in our world for good.
Are you one of them? What difference will you make in a neighbor or strangers life today?
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