I really enjoy watching transformations. There are home transformation shows on all the time. They take an old, abandoned, neglected home and transform it into something completely different. What seems to have no potential becomes something truly remarkable. It is hard to believe they are even the same houses in the end. They look to improve functionality and update the style while keeping character pieces. I find it fascinating. And there are shows about body transformations. People go through complete transformations as they learn to eat better and exercise. They take on a whole new lifestyle and become someone completely different, at least on the outside. When they are done, you can’t even believe your eyes. It is truly something you have to see to believe.
What is it about these transformations? What we don’t fully understand or see is the amount of work that goes in. If we are not involved in the steps of the transformation, we don’t really know all the struggles and sacrifice it took to get there. For the home, they had to tear out all the old stuff. Inevitably there are problems. It is to be expected. There are setbacks. There are hidden issues that no one is prepared to tackle. There are the long days and nights of sweat labor poured into the new drywall and the new floors. Everything has to be rethought and reimagined. If it is done correctly, it is a matter of remaking this house with careful detail and intention.
For the person that goes through their own transformation, we don’t really know what it was like to get up each morning to exercise. We don’t get what it meant to make better food choices and stop the habits that had caused the issues initially. We cannot comprehend the mental, physical and emotional fatigue that goes into every step, every decision, and every setback. So much of a person’s life is poured into this transformation. They have to learn to believe in themselves and their own potential. They have to see themselves differently. It is way more challenging that we could ever understand unless we have been there.
Transformations are like that. They look incredible on the outside, but so much work and effort…so much sacrifice…has gone into the change. It is not something that is done in a day or a week or a month. It is a lifetime of continual work. Transformation is about sacrifice on a daily basis. It is not easy.
Yet, this is what we are challenged with in the scripture today. This is what is put before us. We are called to a place of sacrifice in order to transform. We are called to live differently. We are called to put in this daily difficult challenging work to transform. Let’s consider this as we hear from
12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.
12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
12:4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,
12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
12:6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;
12:7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;
12:8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
We are encouraged in this scripture to work for transformation. We struggle with this ultimate call to be something unique, different than this world. We are called to do this incredible work of love – to live it, to live by it, to let love guide us. We are called to something that pushes us to become more like Christ. And this takes work. Just like transformation of houses and of bodies takes daily, difficult, struggling work – sacrifice, even – so does our spiritual transformation.
The good news is that we have the ultimate trainer for our journey. We have the transformation guru to help us. We have someone that has been doing this forever and he is the best. We have the Holy Spirit as our trainer. He is with us, he takes up residence – really – in us. He becomes so much a part of us that if we listen to him, we become a new creation. We still do the work, but he guides the process. We still struggle daily to become all he has created us to be, but he encourages us to keep going. Trainers do not do the work for others, they simply guide the process. They know what we need and what we don’t. We choose to listen or not. If we don’t listen, we don’t change. If we do, we find results. Sometimes they are slow, painful, rough results – but they are results, nonetheless. And results brings really good news.
Sacrifice means we have to give up things. It means we give up our hold on earthly goods. It means we give up our single minded focus on ourselves. It means we give up the baggage that is holding us back. And it means we work on this daily. We are constantly giving it our all. If we take a day off, we can get off track so easily. We can’t give up to achieve real transformation.
God really is the master of transformations. Look at his good creation for an example. The most obvious is the butterfly. What a miracle it is to watch this take place. But there are so many more. From tadpoles to frogs – from seeds to fruit – from tiny specs to flowers – trees transform every season – flowering, providing shade with their leaves, changing colors, losing leaves – always in the process of transforming. It happens all around us without us even noticing.
For us, we transform by hearing God, by listening. We transform when we read and study God’s word. We transform when we daily work to use our gifts for God’s glory. We transform when we hear God call us and we follow. We transform when we love others with a radical love. We transform when we share kindness with an unkind world. We transform as we seek God every single day. We seek him actively. We seek him with our whole hearts. We seek…and when we seek, we find.
When we transform, we begin to work together for God. We begin to transform the church and the world. We transform the places around us when we share God’s love. God’s love will always change things, always. God’s love will transform, always.
Are you ready to put in the effort to become more like Christ? It is a daily struggle – a willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit – a giving up of self and embracing what God has for us – sacrificing our own wants for God’s – working with others, sharing our gifts for the greater good. These challenging times call us to do the difficult work of transformation. Are you willing to sacrifice? We are in this together.