An April Note from Pastor Rich

Transformation

At the age of 22, Bill Hybels was busy trying to launch Willow Creek Community Church when he discovered there were some necessary legal forms that were required for this new venture. He found an attorney in the phone book to help put together the needed paperwork. At their final meeting, when Hybels was signing the documents, this very sophisticated attorney asked, “Why are you starting this church?” The young and inexperienced pastor replied, “To change people’s lives!” The seasoned lawyer put his hand on Hybels’ shoulder and then presented what sounded like a closing argument to a jury. He said, “Young man, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in 30 years of practicing law, it’s that people’s lives never change. Greedy people stay greedy. Hateful people stay hateful, arrogant people stay arrogant, and cheaters keep cheating. Remember this, young man, people don’t change.” Hybels countered, “Well, I’m betting my whole life on you being wrong about that, pal.” The influence of Bill Hybels and the church he planted is stark evidence to the contrary to what that attorney believed to be true. Jesus Christ gave of Himself so that transformation is possible for any of us.

“Transformation” is a perfectly good Biblical word. It is the word “metamorphoo” (metamorfow) and is used four times in the New Testament. When used of believers, it refers to the change in the moral character of a person. Of course, it is the word from which we get our English word “metamorphosis.” It is the same word that is used for the “transfiguration” of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2. One of the best uses of the word is found in Romans 12:2. “. . . and do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So, what do we learn from this familiar verse? Well, we learn that transformation begins in the mind. In other words, it begins with the thinking power of the person. A transformed mind is one which is totally dedicated to God’s truth and can stand the test of time. The natural or untransformed mind will be dedicated to the things of the world and will be tossed back and forth by the currents of culture. We, as Christians, have the power to be able to withstand the temptations of our culture when the truth of God is the first and foremost thing in our mind and we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and shape our thoughts and behaviors.

Also, note the use of this word in II Corinthians 3:18. “But we all, with unveiling face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being TRANSFORMED into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Here the transformation is back into our original image, the image of God. As Christians behold the glory of God and the image of God in the Word of God, the Spirit of God transforms them into the image of The Son of God and they become more and more like the Lord Jesus. The concept of “glory to glory” is a description of the continual and gradual sanctification of the New Testament Believer which goes hand in hand with this transformation that we are talking about.

Think of what this means in your life. Where would you be if not for the sanctifying work of God in your life? I hate to think of where I might be or what I might have become. Some of the words that would have described me are as follows: Coal miner, angry, drunkard, hated, probably divorced (maybe several times), thief, fornicator and who knows what else? But, at fourteen, I became a Christian and at nineteen, God changed my life forever through rededication to Him.

Allow me to say that the best gift you could give to a new Senior Pastor is a mind that is totally dedicated to the truth and the character and image of God. I don’t want to know my profession, my sports, my hobbies, my friends, even my family more or better than I know my Lord. It turns out that is the best gift I give to myself and also to my friends and family. This process of transformation goes on for our entire lives and the more transformed we become, the more valuable we become to everyone around us. So forget a gift to the new Senior Pastor, it is a gift to yourself, your friends, and your family to constantly being transformed, sanctified, and becoming more like Jesus Christ. David Roher said, “The adventure of new life begins when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind.” That sums up the idea of metamorphoo.

Serving Christ Together,
Pastor Rich