The word transformation sounds good. We love the idea of “being transformed” because we see it as a positive thing. We want to be better people. We want to be better followers of Christ. The reality is that transformation is a great thing, but going through the process of transformation takes work and sometimes doesn’t feel good. It’s not comfortable. It takes sacrifice and self-discipline.
Transformation is defined as a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. We oftentimes use the words “transformation” and “change” interchangeably, but they are not the same. There is a difference between “transformation” and “change”. Change means to use external influences to modify actions. Transformation means to modify beliefs so actions become natural and achieve the desired result. Key words in the meanings… change is to use EXTERNAL influences to modify actions. Transformation is when you modify BELIEFS so actions become natural. Change is external and transformation is internal.
When I think of the word change, I think of some people’s journey on weight loss. If I want to fit into a dress for my wedding, I modify my actions to see a change in my external body. On the flip side, if I want to be transformed… I work on my beliefs. I work on my beliefs about healthy living. If my beliefs about healthy living become strong, my actions follow. If I believe that eating fried foods and chips and cookies is not healthy for my body, I don’t eat it. It becomes natural for me to refrain from eating those things because my beliefs are that they are not good for me.
Let’s put it in a spiritual sense. I can go to church because that’s what I’ve been told I am supposed to do. I can do all that I am told I should do. I’m told to do this… so I do this. I’m told not to do this… so I don’t do this. My action changes because I’m being instructed to change, not because there is a modification in my beliefs.
Spiritual transformation takes place when I change things in my life because there’s been a change in my mind and in my heart. I am transformed when my mind is renewed… made new in God. I am transformed when I receive the heart transplant God gives me… when I accept a heart like His… that loves unconditionally… that applies a measure of grace to others. A transformation takes place when I believe God and His word; therefore, my actions naturally conform to that word.
How does this transformation take place? Just about all things that undergo transformation have a cycle of time in darkness. There is a cycle of being pruned. There is a cycle of being molded… and that molded is someone pushing and pulling. Transformation always includes a cycle of darkness, pain, and suffering.
This dark time of transformation is really important to us today because to many, this is a really dark time. Our lives have drastically changed in the matter of a day. One day we were going about our business, in full control of where we went, what we wore when we went, and how we took care of business. Today, you can no longer go where you want to go because many places are closed. You may be one who doesn’t like masks, but regardless of what you like, there are some establishments where you must wear a mask. You can no longer just walk into a grocery store and peruse the aisles as you’d like. Stores have directions you must walk and strict guidelines on how you wait to check out.
These dark times for some may be the jobs that have been lost. It may be the kids who are home and now you have to figure out how to feed them two meals more than usual… and have to figure out how to teach them. It may be that you are sick or have a sick loved one with the coronavirus. The reality of it is that these times are dark in some respects. But it’s really about what we do in the dark times. Do we take this darkness and allow it to transform us?
These dark times can transform you because you could use this time to do MORE. You could read your bible MORE. You could listen to sermons MORE. You could pray MORE. You could praise and worship God MORE. You could witness to others MORE. These are the spiritual disciplines of a Christian… the things that should be second-nature to us, but sometimes we place these acts on the backburner because of the busyness of our lives.
The busyness has suddenly slowed down. All of a sudden, we have more time, so why not use it to allow God to transform us? When we individually allow this time to transform us, something else happens.
The business dictionary defines transformation as a process of profound or radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness. Imagine what we could do for the kingdom of God as a church body if when we come back together, we have all been transformed? The very definition says we will have a new direction… that will take us to an entirely different level of effectiveness.
What will you do during this time of being apart? Will you allow it to transform you?
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Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.