Summary: This sermon deals with God's transforming grace, what transformation means, and what is needed on our part for God's transforming grace to be ours.
Paganini was a gifted composer and violinist. One evening he was playing before a packed house with full orchestra behind him. During one of the songs one of the strings snapped and dangled down the side. But instead of stopping, Paganini continued to play on. Soon another string snapped followed by another until there was only one string left. But Paganini continued to play without missing a beat.
When he finished the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Paganini then held his violin up high and said, “Paganini and one string,” and played a full encore performance on one string.
Sometime we focus far too much on the strings that dangle in our lives. These strings represent the inevitables of life, like sicknesses, layoffs, economic downturns, and accidents to name a few.
Inevitables are those things we have no control over, nor do we choose them, but they still happen. It’s the stuff that happens in life and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
Instead, we have to play the one string we have left. And the only way we can do this is through God’s transforming grace.
The Bible talks about transformation, like when the Apostle Paul said,
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
Paul is talking about a change that takes place in everyone’s life.
First he tells us not to be conformed, that is, a change that happens from the outside in, like how the landscape changes due to weather. Here Paul is telling us not to let the outside world change us into its image.
Instead Paul says that we are to be transformed, which is an inside out change. To get the true sense of what this means we need to go back to our grade school biology experiment when the teacher took a caterpillar and placed it inside a glass case with branches and leaves.
In a few days the caterpillar spun its cocoon and in a couple of weeks it out would come out a beautiful butterfly. It’s the process known as metamorphosis.
That’s what transformation is, it’s a metamorphosis, a change from the inside out; it’s like stepping into God’s cocoon of grace and being changed in a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Like a caterpillar’s metamorphosis, our transformation takes some time, and there are certain steps that need to take place for the transformation to take.
1. Readjust Our Attitudes
Notice in our verse it says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind; To the Philippian church Paul says that this transformed mind needs to be the same mind; the same thought process with the same attitude that Jesus possessed.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5 NJKV)
And then he talked about what this overall mind set or attitude looks like saying, “Who (Jesus) being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7 NKJV)
Jesus is God, but His attitude was one of humility and coming as a slave, or bondservant.
So Paul tells us to have the same mindset, or to be like-minded, that is, not allowing things like ambition or conceit to rob us of God’s joy. And he says that this was the mindset and attitude that Jesus possessed.
Our attitude has a lot to do with how we view and live this life. To change into the image of Jesus Christ, we need to have a transformation, and this transformation begins with our attitude, and what we choose to put into our minds.
Two construction workers sat down to lunch. One opened his lunch box and angrily said, “I can’t believe it! Baloney again! That’s the fourth time this week, and I hate baloney sandwiches.”
His friend replied, “Take it easy, just tell your wife to fix something else.”
“Wife,” said the first, “I fix my own lunches.”
Attitudes have a lot to do with what we put into our lives, and most of the baloney we put in ourselves. Our attitudes are outward expressions of what we’re inwardly feeling. In fact, we don’t have to say a thing; our attitude will say it for us.
I remember telling my daughter Danielle on many occasions, “Wipe that attitude off your face young lady.”
Many of us, therefore, are in desperate need of an attitude adjustment. What can we do to improve our attitude?
a. Be Careful of Our Thoughts
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV)