Summary: A complete transformation is necessary for us to continue living in Christ.
Several years ago I read a story online about a young man who had a bad crush on a girl in his school. The problem was, this young man was not popular. He was small and kind of wimpy, and the popular kids in school refused to hang out with him for these reasons.
The young lady he was crushing on, on the other hand, was very popular. She was a cheerleader, pretty, and was never at a loss for friends -- until one day she got in a car accident while driving to school. The accident was bad; her car was completely totalled, and she came out of the hospital weeks later paralyzed from the waist down. The accident and resulting wheelchair made her feel ugly; she ended up going into a pretty deep depression and rarely left her home except to go to school.
When the young man saw this, it broke his heart. He walked up to her and told her that she was still beautiful to him. He told her that he wanted to take her to their senior prom. She just laughed -- what’s the point of going to a dance if you can’t use your legs? He replied that he was serious, and the fact that she couldn’t use her legs didn’t matter to him. He told her that he would take care of everything -- her dress, his tux, transportation, the works. She finally agreed, and he began to prepare.
In addition to all of the normal preparations for prom, this young man joined a gym. He went to the gym every morning before school and every afternoon after school let out. He was at the gym daily for months until the day of prom finally arrived. When he arrived at the girl’s house, she was shocked. This dude was completely transformed! He was no longer the skinny, wimpy kid who asked her to prom so many months ago, he was now a big, muscular young man. All the time he spent at the gym paid off -- while they were at the dance, he was able to physically carry her in his arms the entire time, making her feel like she didn’t have anything wrong with her anymore for the first time since her accident.
After graduation, they ended up getting married.
I don’t know if this story is true or not (I did read it online, after all). But the point remains -- change is necessary for something amazing to happen.
For the past two weeks we’ve been discussing the different steps needed to bake bread -- first you must harvest the wheat, then you thresh and winnow, next you grind it into flour, and finally you combine it with the other ingredients. Tonight we are going to talk about the third step -- grinding the wheat into flour.
Grinding wheat into flour is a fairly simple task. All you need is two stone surfaces -- put the wheat kernels in between these two surfaces and flour is the result. You get coarse or fine flour based on how long you grind.
In ancient times, flour mills were powered by oxen -- they would tie the oxen to a pole and walk them around a circle. At the other end of the pole they affixed a large stone, which would ride on top of another stone. These two millstones would work together to make flour.
As technology progressed, windmills and waterwheels became popular. These worked on the exact same principle, although instead of relying on an animal’s brute strength to move the millstone, it used wind or water power. This worked much better for everyone involved because it was cheaper -- there were no animals to feed -- and gave a more consistent product.
Once the wheat had been ground into flour, it was no longer recognizable as kernels of wheat -- it was transformed into a fine powder. In fact, if the wheat is not ground into flour, it’s not very useful at all. That transformation from wheat kernel to wheat flour is what made the difference.
Likewise, we also must be transformed. As soon as we accept Christ during the harvest, and choose to remove the chaff covering our lives during threshing, we begin to change. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
This verse says it quite clearly. It starts with “And we all”. Who is “we”, here? Is it all humans? All believers? The Greek can be translated as “all” as we think of it in English, or “every part that applies”, depending on the context of the rest of the sentence. In order to determine, then, which meaning we should use, we need to go over the rest of the verse.