Changing your clothes seems hard when you’re a child. For a grandparent, it’s hard to watch those little munchkins wrestle to get the shirt on or off. But when we grow up a little, it gets easy. We learn to change all sorts of things besides clothing. There are a/c filters, tires, even jobs and neighborhoods. Changing habits can be a bit harder. Such as adding physical exercise to life, or adopting a specific diet. Harder still is changing in character.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
The Bible commands “be transformed” in Romans 12:2.The idea is communicated in dozens of other places but in this one it is a clear, brief command. For grammar geeks it is particularly interesting because it is a command but it is passive. A better English translation might be “let yourself be transformed” or “let God transform you” as the NLT puts it. In other words we are told to do something but we are not the one to do it because we are passive in it. So, we have to choose to allow transformation to happen. But we are creatures of habit. Changing our character (or allowing it to be changed) can be very hard.
Our tendency is to fake it. It goes like this. We start going to a church, we hear the gospel message, and we genuinely respond in faith. Then we find ourselves on the inside. God changes some things very quickly if we stick with it. We also watch the other people and start acting like they act. We want to be on the inside. We want to be accepted and liked. So, often we fake it. We hide undesirable activities and character traits and get into a new rhythm of life. But the command still says “be transformed.” The grammar of it is in the present tense. So, it could just as well say “keep on being transformed.” There is so much more growth to be had. But sometimes the effort to grow is more than we want to expend. So, we just hide it. We fake it.
I am reminded that much of the Bible speaks to a crowd rather than to an individual. I think we ought to read it as a crowd in order to get the proper effect. In other words, I am not to just sit in my room alone and be transformed, but I am to do this in community. I do well when I talk about my struggles with my close friends and ask them for help and prayer. Hebrews 10:24 in the NLT reads “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Spiritual growth is a team sport. This is a struggle for our tendency to pose… our tendency to hide and fake it.
I feel like if we could just admit it and embrace it, we would be so much better off. I remember people wearing shirts in the past that said “me too.” If we adopted that posture it might do us some good. I struggle too. We are in this together. Let’s help each other grow.
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A shepherd and his journey