Let’s start with a definition. Transform means to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, outward appearance and character of a person.
So, looking at it from God’s perspective, the first step in the transformational process is to personally commit your life to Jesus Christ. You will then know that He and His presence are real, both in the world and within you. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide the transformation. The principle is that God never leaves you as you were before you accepted Christ and decided to follow Him. God has a much better plan for your future than you could have ever dreamed or imagined. Your life’s purpose, activities, priorities, goals, worldview and much more will now be different. Here are some of the changes you can expect.
You will find yourself with an intense desire to get into God’s Word, the Bible, and learn and understand more about Him and the Christian life. You will really ‘hunger after His Word’, your ‘Daily Bread’. You will be praying more. Your prayer time will be both intimate and personal with the Lord. You will come to cherish your time together. Your friends will change. First, you will tell them about your new relationship and if they are not interested you will develop new friendships with other believers. Conversations will change from the usual mundane topics of weather, politics, events, etc., to those of a personal spiritual nature. You will look for new frontiers in your discussions.
Interest in materialism and the secular culture will diminish. Yes, you will continue to work and earn a living but it will no longer become the center of your life’s goal. Your interests and concerns will gradually be directed towards people, not things. Emotions like hatred, jealousy, envy, etc. will become a thing of the past and be replaced with genuine feelings of caring, compassion, forgiveness and love. You will develop a strong desire to share your faith with others because of the joy in newly transformed life and hope within you.
In this life each person thinks that he or she has the power and control over what life will be like. That discretion is called our free will. When the choice is made to trust in Jesus, one becomes a ‘New Creation in Christ’ and the transformation begins. No longer does the world’s value system determine life’s choices, rather the Holy Spirit directs your total existence if you are willing and listen.
Picture the lowly caterpillar transformed into a beautiful Butterfly. That’s what God’s intent is for every person because God is love and sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to give each person the opportunity to know Him, to live with meaning and purpose and gain eternal life. That is the Transformational Encounter!
Yes, but often we’re not listening. God created man and woman in his image, that is he gave them the capacity to communicate in a way that is different from all the other creatures in the world. He gave them the capacity to interact with the creator of not just the world, but the universe as well. He wanted these beings to enjoy a pain-free, stress-free eternal life in communion with him.
When the first man and woman decided that they could be the equal of the creator, they separated themselves from God and set mankind on a death spiral.
But God never abandoned his most precious creation and instituted a plan to restore his relationship with them.
That plan began with the setting apart a group of people through whom the world would be blessed. The plan culminated with the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself to atone for all the wrongdoings of everyone whoever lived and who will ever live on earth.
We read the story of God and his people in the Bible and learn of his personal interaction with him. Today we can still hear his voice. Sometimes it is through the Bible, the holy scriptures inspired by God. Sure, the various books in the Bible were written at different times, with specific purposes to specific audiences. However, the truths contained there can speak to those who open their hearts and mind to hear God speaking to them.
The apostle Paul, who wrote many of the letters that are included in the Bible, reminds us that:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
God speaks through the written word (logos), as well as through the Holy Spirit (rhema), which as believers, we receive when we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. God made us each individual and He speaks to us in the way that we receive information; a visual learner versus an audible learner. God confirms Himself through others, though it’s best to check with scripture and confirm that what you believe God is saying to you is true to His character.
Two weeks ago we addressed the question, “Why is life so hard?” We regularly need to be reminded that at times life can be difficult. There is no way around that. We live in a fallen world where sin reigns mostly due to our human nature and our own choices. Sometimes the choices that others make hurt us and contribute to our discomfort. Unfortunately becoming a follower of Christ does not mean that suddenly life becomes easy. So maybe the question should be asked a different way.
How will becoming a Christian help me deal with the hard times in my life?
Think about who we are as humans. We are selfish and prideful and make wrong choices. That pretty much describes everyone with whom you interact. That’s why we all end up hurting ourselves and others and why others hurt us. But God’s good news is that Christians have a helper, we call the Holy Spirit, to comfort us when we we’re hurting; to help us see clearly when the road ahead is cloudy and dark. Life doesn’t necessarily become easier, but you are better able to endure your suffering knowing that as you sincerely call on God, he will give you peace.
When the first humans chose to break their relationship with God (Gen. 2:16-17), he promised he would provide a way to restore that relationship. He did that by first sending his son, Jesus, to suffer the consequences of our separating ourselves from God. Then he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell all those who accept the death of Jesus as the substitute for their own death, and choose to become a follower of Jesus. They, in effect, are born anew. As such, each Christian can enjoy a measure of peace knowing that Jesus has “overcome this world” (John 16:33).
James, Jesus’ half-brother, wrote that we should change our perspective when we face these difficulties, because they produce joy and maturity in us when we rely on God for help in these circumstances (James 1:2-4, 2 Cor. 4:17). For a Christian, facing life’s difficulties is easier knowing that:
“The joy of the Lord is our strength”
Discovery questions like this one suggest that an adventure lies ahead. Indeed, discovering God’s plan for one’s life is the greatest journey a person can ever undertake. It is often revealed in phases over one’s lifetime as a Christian matures in their faith. Finding your purpose in life and living it with a passion is God’s intent for everyone. Then and only then will you be able to honor God with your life and your work or calling and enjoy his presence now and forever. So where do we start the search for God’s plan which was actually in place before you were born. That in itself is an amazing truth. (Ephesians 2:10)
It seems therefore that we should go first to the source, the Bible, God’s inspired Word, to discover the plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 for example we find, “for I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” So from this verse we know with certainty that God has a plan for each believer in Jesus. Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.” In other words, in searching for God’s plan one needs to diligently explore the Scriptures to become aware of God’s promises and their special calling from Jesus and one needs to abide in Jesus and follow His calling. Jesus wants you to become a disciple that makes disciples in whatever profession you are given. You are to become a partner in building God’s kingdom. Church Pastors, Christian guidance counselors and Christian friends can help you in your search.
To fully realize ‘the plan’ as a Christian you must live the Christian values of love, sympathy, compassion, humility, honesty and moral integrity. The apostle Peter said it well in chapter 3 verses eight and nine. His parting words were,” Finally, all of you be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, humble, and compassionate. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but on the contrary a blessing because to this you were called that you might inherit a blessing.” The blessing is a life filled with meaning, with purpose and joy and an assurance of eternity in Heaven!
Therefore, in order to discover and live God’s plan one needs to read the Scriptures, pray, abide in Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit, obey the Commandments, and finally become mature disciples of Jesus that share the gospel message of redemption and hope with everyone God brings into your path. God’s plan is for everyone to become more like Jesus.