Summary: God expects us to be transformed into the image of Christ. To refuse to do this we remain deformed in the image of the world.
In November of 1977 we adopted our son Kevin. As Kevin grew, he would occasionally want to sleep in our “king-sized” bed with us. We were used to having our dog in bed with us, and the addition of Kevin added little to the problem. Before too long, Kevin preferred to sleep in the big bed with Mom and Dad. We may have spoiled him a little.
Shortly after his third birthday, I was transferred to the Island of Barbados in the West Indies. We determined before we left that we were going to buy Kevin his own big bed and this would be the big move from sleeping with Mom and Dad, to sleeping in his own big bed.
Our home in Barbados was without a doubt the nicest home we lived in, but there were a few drawbacks. We discovered the first one, the first night Kevin was supposed to sleep in his own "big boy bed." We went through a series of "I can’t sleep"; "What are ya’ll talking about" (yes, we’re from Texas); "I want a drink." Finally, we both went in and turned on his light with the determination that we were going to reassure him and go back to bed. When we turned on the light, above his head on the wall, was a centipede that was without a doubt the largest that we had ever seen ... at least up to that point. It was a foot long, and over the next year, we learned many creative ways to try to kill those things.
It wasn’t until after we transferred back to Houston that we bought Kevin his own bunk-beds that he learned to sleep in his own bed. Being over protective parents with a spoiled child, it took us a while until we could go to bed without worrying that he was going to fall out of bed. Thank God for bunk-beds!
One little boy fell out of his bed one night and was asked why. He said, "I guess I fell asleep too close to where I got in."
I would propose to you, that is a pretty good description of a lot of Christians who come to personal faith in Christ, perhaps, even at a young age, and take some initial steps of growth in Christ. Then it’s as though they just fall asleep, never again to grow in that relationship.
Becoming Like Christ
Understand that God’s goal for us as Christians is to grow continually, to become like Christ. He describes that in Romans 8:29. He says that we have been "...predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son..." In Galatians 4:19, the apostle Paul is talking about laboring with the Galatian Christians, and he speaks of himself as a mother in labor ... agonizing, hoping that in his work with them they’ll eventually come to the place of Christ being formed in them. That’s God’s goal for us ... to become like Christ.
As we come to this verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18, the apostle Paul elaborates on this truth: “But we all, with unveiled 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.” (NASB)
Now look at this little phrase "...being transformed..." In our language, it’s two words. In the original Biblical language, it’s just one word, but it’s a word that will ring somewhat familiar to you. In fact, it should set off a bell going all the way back to about tenth grade biology class. It’s the Greek word metamorphoo. Does that sound familiar? The word that we use is almost exactly like it: metamorphosis.
Do you remember what it is that goes through metamorphosis? The caterpillar crawls along and finds a cozy spot on a branch somewhere. He spins that cocoon, metamorphoses inside that cocoon, and emerges as a beautiful butterfly. It is transformed. That’s the word Paul uses.
He says we are to be in the process of a spiritual metamorphosis. This is what God expects of us. He presumes that it’s taking place. We are to be reflecting the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in ever-increasing measure. We are to be continually growing, continually transforming into the image of Christ.
Being on the tail end of the Boomer generation, I grew up watching Superman and Batman, and many of the shows that were based on comic books. Often in those programs, the seemingly “mild mannered reporter,” or the “eccentric wealthy young man,” would go through a transformation in order to become the super hero. Ordinary people endued with supernatural power to live extraordinary lives ... now, that’s outrageous fantasy.
The word for metamorphosis is a wonderful, Biblical word. You see, we are ordinary people in whom God has placed His Holy Spirit, in whom God has placed His supernatural Person to enable us to live extraordinary, Christ-like lives, to be transformed. That’s the fundamental expectation of the New Testament.