Being transformed by Christ
In John 10:10, Jesus mentions that He has 'come that [we] may have life, and have it in all its fullness.' When we consider what happened to many early followers of Jesus—persecution that led to some being arrested, stoned, or killed—we realize that this life He is speaking of likely has more to do with our perspectives and how we live in the moment than with the circumstances we are surrounded by. While I believe we have some control over our perspectives, scripture also seems to show a growth process within believers, overseen by the Holy Spirit, that leads to many individual perspective shifts that help us experience life in all its fullness.
We first get some ideas about how to start this process when Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:39, “Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.” Romans 12:1-2 shows that this active surrender to Christ opens the door to change in our perspectives. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Though I have my part to do—offering myself as a living sacrifice and not being conformed to the pattern of this world—I am thankful that the verse doesn't tell me to transform myself but rather to 'be transformed.' Other translations are more direct about this process and read “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
While surrendering our lives and trusting Christ opens the door to transformation starting, surrender tends to be an active process since we are living sacrifices. I have found in my life that as I follow Christ after having surrendered, I have a tendency to pick back up certain parts that should stay under the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, Christ is faithful to help me. In a similar way to the father in Mark 9 whose son needed healing, I often have to pray “Christ, I do trust you; help me with my lack of trust. I do want to surrender, help me let go of the parts of my life that I can't seem to let go of right now.”
In the process of this surrender and of the Holy Spirit changing the way we think, we start to become more like Christ. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” As that happens, we tend to start to embody other perspectives in scripture—being thankful for all the blessings around us (because we can start to see them more), slowing down and actually listening to God and others more (and appreciating being able to), and looking at trials and suffering as opportunities for growth and even being legitimately joyful over those opportunities. All of these perspective changes, and more, begin to help us to have true, full life in the moment (thank God!).
I think Paul, who had been undergoing this transformation ever since He became a believer on the road to Damascus, sums it up well in Philippians 4:12-13. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Brandon Nimz, leader of Unite Ministry in Hays, is a contributor to the Hays church community's monthly ONE series of columns.