Summary: How do we begin the process of personal change?
If you take one of the bulletins and turn over the flap, you’ll see a list of eight "core values". These core values identify what we’re about as a church. They describe our basic identity, our DNA. And like DNA, which is found in every cell of the body, our intent is that we would see these principles operating in all the ministries of the church; that they would guide our planning and decision-making; that they would influence the way we do worship, and small groups, and children’s programs, and outreach. So, for instance, when you read that we value "community," you should be able to see evidence of people coming together; building supportive and caring relationships. Some of these things we do better than others, and that’s OK. We’re not claiming to have "arrived". It’s a process. But by God’s grace, this is what we’re aiming for, this is what we’re striving toward.
Today, I’d like to address one of these core values: transformation. Transformation. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? But what does it mean? It means that when it comes to our relationship with God, we’re not satisfied with just maintaining the status quo. We’re not content to continue year after year, with the same ideas, and attitudes, and habits that we’ve always had. On the contrary, we believe God wants to change us, that he has the power to change us, and that he is changing us. Yes, it’s true that God accepts us completely, just as we are. But it’s also true that he isn’t willing to leave us just as we are. He wants to change us, through and through, top to bottom. He wants to shape and strengthen our character; he wants to clean the muck out of our souls; he wants to rework our values and priorities; he wants to give us wisdom and insight and understanding. What he wants to do is make us more like Jesus Christ. Listen to these verses from the hand of Paul the apostle:
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:18
We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ! I like the way the New Living Translation renders this verse: "… as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory more and more." That’s the goal. Not that we will lose our unique personalities, or become little cookie-cutter Christians. That’s not what God wants. If you’re concerned about that, just consider the incredible variety of creation: the thousands of different species of insects, and plants, and animals; everything from ants to panda bears to hammerhead sharks. We serve a God who loves diversity, not a God who wants everything to be the same.
But he does want to change us, for the better. That process began on the day when we first trusted in Christ, and it will continue throughout our lives.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
– 2 Corinthians 5:17