We stand for TRANSFORMED LIVES. // Part 2
Our leadership team recently finished a study on values for Mt Olive and they were presented to the congregation last February. The more we solidify our course around these values, the more unified we become as a body of Christ and the more influential we will be in our community as a dynamic force for good—for the sake of sharing the gospel.
We stand for TRANSFORMED LIVES.
Everything we do at Mount Olive encourages and supports a transformed life. The gospel changes us, giving us a new identity and purpose for our lives. As followers of Jesus, and through the power of his Spirit, we continually grow in our knowledge and relationship with him, always shifting our approach to living in order to bring him glory.
How does this happen? Are there practical steps toward transformation? Are we passive recipients or are we actively seeking this transformation? These are all great questions and most assuredly you have more.
Here are two passages that will help us answer the “how” of transformation:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the Image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. // Romans 8:28-29
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. // Romans 12:2
Here are four main points that I pull from these two passages:
He works for those who love him. (Do you love him?)
He is conforming you to the image of his Son, Jesus.
We can be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
In Romans 8:28, it says that God works for the good of those who love him. The word for “works” here (synergei) is where we get our English word “synergy.” It means that God is actively working in us AND he is actively working in us as a team. We are not sitting limp and inactive in this whole process. He is working with us. This strongly implies our participation.
It also implies that God is very active in this process. That’s essential. When we encourage someone to change, when parents ask their children to change their bad habits, when a friend tells you to stop being so afraid, so angry, so complacent or so lazy, you may know what that means but you are only human. If you could have mustered the strength to be different, you very likely would have mastered that particular sinful influence in your life. The reality is, all of us fall short and are incapable of making transformational change on our own. Fear might hold back the sinful tide, a strong and determined character might be able to make some dents at the hulking challenge, but we are powerless to change without a greater power stepping into our life. That Greater Power is the Gospel in the form of Jesus; God promises to partner with us and live inside of us. When Christ Jesus lives inside of you, that not only makes transformation “possible” but inevitable.
God is actively working in you, together with you, to change you into the image of his Son.
HE WORKS FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. (Do you love him?)
Romans 8:28 also emphasizes that God works together for the betterment of those who love him. We must, then, naturally ask, “do we love Jesus?” In our natural state we don’t, we can’t. But ever since God has called us to himself by the Gospel, a change has taken place in us and we have started to be aware of his love. The secret to transformation is to fall more and more “in love” with him. How?
Look at his attitude toward you. Do you really know how he feels about you today? If you live in a religion of merit, God’s/Jesus love for you, makes its appearance on the basis of your daily merit. Have you been good enough to deserve God’s love today? Of course you can see right through that Satanic charade! And I’m glad you can. Unfortunately there are too many people (and even some who would call themselves Christians) who operate on the scale of merit. And they continually have this nagging question, “did I earn God’s love and favor today? Have I done enough?” Someone trapped in that cannot be in love with Jesus. They are only in fear of him.
Again, how do we love him? The best place is to stand, often, at the cross. In whatever way you are able to do this, walk yourself up to the cross and ask a few questions of God: Why is Jesus hanging and tortured? Why is he bleeding and screaming in pain? Why is he staying on the cross when we know that he could call on legions of angels to take him down?
He is there for two reasons: your sin and his love.
Your sin is the first reason he is there. He is there so that he can remove your sin from your record. If he didn’t remove your sin, God would have to punish you with the same cruel torture that he experienced. It might not make much sense now, but even one sin deserved such cruel punishment—that is how wicked and sinister and evil even one sin is.
The other reason he is on the cross is his love. He did not want to lose your presence; but he had to take the biggest chance ever by putting himself out there, naked and forsaken and in agony. He had to display his love for you by being your substitute on the cross. And he knew that some would not understand this display of love. He knew that some would think little of this. He knew that some would not even want to address it. But the one who comes to the cross and sees such an outpouring of love will walk away in tears, changed, challenged, and convinced that God does care.
HE IS CONFORMING YOU TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, JESUS.
There is no maybe in this. It is happening! Short and sweet point—It’s happening!
WE CAN BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF OUR MIND.
Be immersed in the Word in order to see his love for you but also to see what it is that he wants to change about you. I know that it’s hard to imagine, on your good days, that anything really needs to change. At best we are oblivious to what needs to change. At the worst we ignore those things.
God’s Word cuts to the heart of it all by exposing thoughts, attitudes, and desires that are ungodly. Why? Because we were made for better. Our current thoughts, attitudes, and desires actually hold us back from a better version of ourselves.
Be transformed, friends!