Do you like change? I don’t! Yet, change is a part of life, isn’t it? When I first came to know Jesus Christ, it was easy to recognize changes that I needed to make in my life. I was 35, married, 3 small children under 5 years old and I hadn’t had a drivers license in years because of multiple DUIs. I had suffered 3 dramatically negative experiences in my life in a 6-month time period and I started questioning “what is life really about? Was everyone else the problem or was I the problem”. God used those 3 negative experiences and put the right people in my path to help me realize I needed Jesus. I’m so grateful for God’s love and how He orchestrated things at that time, all just for me.
Coming to know Jesus Christ is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. Immediate change occurred, everyone could see it, there was no doubt. There was a lot of skepticism, I don’t think anyone expected it to last, they just figured it was a phase I was going through. All my old friends stopped coming around and I wasn’t hanging out at their place. This traumatic change occurred because I was reading God‘s word and believed in it’s full and complete truth. I knew that I needed support in following God’s truth and if I started hanging out with my old friends again, I might’ve questioned reality as I had done my entire adult life.
Romans 12:2 is a scripture that I memorized easily when I was still new in my faith and has always been one of my favorites
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you will know what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
Not conforming to this world meant that I needed to stay away from the bars and not hang out at my friend’s houses. This wasn’t easy, my children would ask, “hey dad, why doesn’t Smitty come by anymore”? Smitty was my closest friend and yet, he spread rumors and lies about me because of this new change I’d made in my life. It hurt me deeply when I heard what he had been saying. I started every day reading, believing and following God‘s word, the truth in my life and I ignored what the world was saying about me. Every morning I renewed my mind in God’s word, was continually being transformed and becoming strong against the temptation of conforming to this world.
The word transformed is translated from a word that means metamorphosis. Another one of my favorite scriptures is 2Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
This scripture is also referencing a transformation, a metamorphosis. The caterpillar metamorphosis is used in a youth ministry called Chrysalis which I was involved in for years. Once a caterpillar builds his cocoon around himself, his body completely liquefies, the old is gone and look, something new and beautiful appears. That’s what God does for those of us who come to know him.
It was easy at first to identify things I needed to change in my life. Drinking, smoking pot, looking at women the way that I did and profanity were the “big 4”. When I became stronger against those temptations, I felt this great feeling of accomplishment as I praised God for how he changed my life, transformed my heart. Then I realized, there was a whole other set of temptations I needed to overcome. My first thought was, “I’m never going to get this life with Christ right”. But I realized, a life in Christ was kind of like an onion. As I overcame the initial temptations I struggled with, God peeled the outer layer of the onion away and tossed it in the garbage. He was telling me that I was doing good and He revealed a new set of temptations to deal with, the next layer. This new set of issues was not because I wasn’t getting life right, it was because I was being transformed into Christ’s likeness and he was revealing more of His truth to me. He didn’t throw the whole list on me at one time completely overwhelming me, “baby steps” as my friend Noreen would say, progress not perfection as God‘s word teaches. I learned there is an endless number of layers, I’m always going to have something to work on as I work through my sanctification process.
As far as I have come in my walk with Jesus, it seems I have so far yet to go to be in his likeness. I heard someone say years ago that the closer you get to being like Jesus, the further you will realize you have to go. It seemed like a strange comment to me all those years ago, but now I understand.
I daily run into circumstances where I realize I need an attitude adjustment, typically this revolves around loving people, particularly those whom I don’t like. At first, I thought this was just a thick layer of the onion, but I’ve come to realize that loving others is in every single layer of the onion. I know I am persevering and at times making 3 baby steps forward and 2 giant steps backwards, but I am being transformed by God’s word to love others more. To consider them first above myself. I must pray every morning that God bless me with a heart of love for everyone, especially those I dislike or who I find irritable. This is by far my greatest challenge at transforming to Christ’s likeness. I’m grateful for God’s word and His Holy Spirit who helps me discern what God is saying to me, showing me where I need to beware of conforming to this world and how I need to be transformed by renewing my mind from the teachings of His word so I will know what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God which is, to love others.