Most of us recognise that we need to alter our lifestyle in one way or another. However, the simple word, “Change” can be one of the most difficult words in our personal life to implement!
What does this word, ‘Change’ mean to you?
We change a flat tire on our car, change our clothes, our laundry, our location, our job, our health, our relationships, etc. Sometimes it is a positive experience; often a negative one.
Change happens in our external environment, yes, but more often, it affects us most profoundly in our internal climate. Personal happiness is often at stake.
How do we create good transformation – an internal habitat that is safe, stable and secure – in a world that guarantees nothing will remain the same permanently?
I’ve asked this question frequently, as much of my own life has changed, fluctuated, distressed or unsettled over the years. Where is a refuge? Where can we find peace?
The church’s classic answer, “Find your peace in God”, just doesn’t mean anything I can grasp with confidence. I don’t always know what the method is to achieve, “Find “.
(Sadly, manuals are not provided with these comfortable platitudes. It just gives the ‘pat-answer’ people a means to quickly escape difficult questions…)
A few days ago, I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to read today?” I felt the urging to read in the book of Romans, 12:2:
‘Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [test, approve, allow, discern, examine] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, [complete, mature, fulfilled] will of God.’
“Transform” is a powerful word. It stood out prominently to me, so I began looking up where else this word is located in the Bible.
It is used three other times, in Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2, and II Corinthians 3:18.
The Matthew and Mark references both tell the story of Jesus taking Peter, James and John only up into a high mountain. There, “He was transfigured before them, and His face shone as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light. And Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Him.” (umm, wow!) (but that’s another article…)
‘Transfigured” is another strong word. The dictionary definition defines it as: “to change the form or appearance of; to exalt; to glorify; to make over to a radically different form, composition, state or disposition”. The Thesaurus gives the synonyms: transformed, changed, commuted, converted, metamorphosed, mutated, transferred, translated, transmuted, transposed, transubstantiated, transmogrified.”
Hmm, where had I seen that word, ‘transformed’ before?
The Strong’s Greek definition surprised me further.
The word ‘Transfigured’, is the exact same word and definition as ‘Transformed’ !
It is this: To transform, (literally or figuratively, ‘Metamorphose’)
Thayer’s definition says, “To change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. Christ’s appearance was changed and was resplendent with divine brightness on the mount of transfiguration”.
In short, both Transformation and Transfiguration involve a radical change from one form into another.
We may think that Christ’s divine transfiguration on the mountain was a one-time glorious event. God wants us to know that the same transformation is available to us, by an act of our choice!
The Romans verse is spoken as an imperative sentence: “Don’t be conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
If we truly want change, it is not a passive event. It is a working process, and it requires something of us.
If we truly believe that He is a loving, good God who wants our very best, and desires to bring us into good things, then we need to choose behaviors that reflect these beliefs. This will enable the positive changes to be fulfilled. As God sees our faith changing our behavior, He is then free to give the blessings.
We often operate under a mistaken belief that blessings should arrive without effort on our part.
While this is somewhat true, in reference to God’s gift of salvation, and His divine love and mercy, He is no sugar-Daddy. He wants us to grow, to mature. Only challenge, pressure, choice and exercise is going to do it. We need to defy, not those around us, but our own carnal nature.
Colossians 2:6, 7 says, “Accordingly, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in that place with thanksgiving.
His word also says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. (Phil. 2:12) The definitions of ‘work’ say: “to work fully, to accomplish, to achieve, to bring about, result in, to work out from which something results, to render one fit for a thing”.
Many other scriptures show that change occurs within our mind, our heart, our decisions, attitudes, and manifest actions.
Make no mistake. These are not a sleepy, inert words. They require whole-hearted effort!
**In order to Transform, we challenge our choices and outward behaviours to change, in order to reflect that we truly believe God has purchased our freedom through Jesus Christ. **
He truly wants to bring us into wholeness, joy and prosperity. Our old nature constantly tempts us to relapse. If we’re not willing to do the work of change, we need to acknowledge that we don’t truly believe Christ’s resurrection has liberated us, and stop complaining about the distress we experience. **
This is the Why – and the How – of one of the most powerful verses in the Bible. It also explains the deep symbolism of the act of baptism. “I am crucified with Christ. However, I live! Yet, it’s not me who lives, but Christ who lives within me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. ” (Galatians 2:20)
What if my feelings don’t believe this, you may say?
Don’t worry if they don’t line up at first. Emotions will change as we decide and train ourselves to do what is right. Feelings and emotions are never meant to guide our behaviours, yet often we give them a place higher than God’s words. They are indicators only, and have a valuable place as such, but are never meant to supersede our power of choice.
So, in summary, how do we change our internal climate? By changing our internal thoughts to reflect the positive, life-giving freedom we truly have in Christ.
Then, we choose the external behaviours that show – by faith – our belief.
I cannot minimize the cost of this “Mind Renovation” exercise. At first, it can be very challenging. Old ways do not die easily! However, when we engage in the process, resist the former ways and choose better thoughts, there comes a joy, a strength, and deep sense of fulfillment that confirms deep inside you are on the right path! I have – and continue to – walk this process, and I can truthfully say it has revolutionized my life. It has eased depression, and dark, negative thought patterns, and brought an energy and optimism I didn’t realize before. No, sadly I’m not perfect, but, in comparison, this is the much better way to live!
It is no guarantee against the griefs of the world, but it definitely enables a brighter outlook to face the journey, as we step out of conformity to an old, destructive pattern, and into the Life of Christ in us!