God is all about creating and shaping and transforming!
It’s there from the start. “In the beginning God created…” We see it everywhere in this natural universe that we inhabit and even in us; especially in us! We are imago dei – made in the image of God.
But that image became flawed and disfigured. From the moment that Adam and Eve disobeyed our Creator sin blemished His original, intended design for us. Not until Jesus came to bring new life has there been the opportunity to truly morph, to be set free from the ugly effects of sin and experience real, whole life.
“But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” ~ Romans 6:22 (The Message)
“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.” ~ Romans 8:29 (The Message)
It is a paradox to be sure! When we give ourselves to be wrapped in the grace that comes through Jesus we are immediately seen by God as spotless and set free from the consequence of sin – eternal death. And yet we continue to live in this world of flesh and blood which means we struggle against sin and its hurtful patterns until the day that Jesus comes back for us. We can’t fully comprehend it right now but our morphing is both immediate and ongoing; a lifelong process.
To have our character, the core of our being, transformed to be like Jesus can seem more than a little daunting. But don’t be too alarmed. While we must actively participate, it is the Holy Spirit that orchestrates the morphing process.
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18 (New Living Translation)
There are two obvious questions. How do we participate in the morphing process? And how do we know if it’s working?
We participate in the morphing process when we give ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit who is working to make us more like Jesus by keeping our focus on Jesus. It is a principle of Scripture, and life in general, that we become like that which we gaze upon. Imagine a triangle with Jesus at the center. The Spirit is hovering over the triangle as he works to draw our attention to Jesus and He will use three primary elements (three points of the triangle) in the process.
- The narratives of Jesus: Our lives are a collection of stories. These stories – the good, the bad and the ugly – fuel our perspective on life and largely determine how we choose to respond to circumstances or relate to others. Jesus’ life is the one true story (God’s design) of how we are to live life and relate to others in healthy ways. The more that we give attention to the narratives of Jesus the more the Spirit can morph us into the likeness of Jesus.
- Soul-Training Exercises: As our stories begin to be rewritten or reinterpreted by the narratives of Jesus they become more deeply a part of who we are as we practice various activities or disciplines. Some disciplines serve to help us break free from harmful patterns that draw our attention away from Jesus while others serve to help us more fully embrace God’s truths and live out this new life that we see in Jesus.
- Participating in Community: There are no Lone Ranger Christians! God intends for us to share this journey of life with others who are following Jesus. As we give ourselves to authentic relationships where we can encourage, challenge and support one another the Holy Spirit will use this kind of fellowship to shape our lives in ways that will better reflect the grace and glory of God.
Life lived in the ordinary moments of a day is where the rubber meets the road and the morphing process gets tested. It’s one thing to observe patience in a narative of Jesus, talk with God about it alone in prayer, and ask a faith community to hold you accountable; but it is quite another thing to have our patience tested when we encounter inconsiderate people in the course of an ordinary day. This is where our newly developing character gets stretched and grown.
We will never fully arrive at becoming like Jesus in this life but we will know that the morphing process is headed in the right direction if we have an increasing capacity to love God and love others. But don’t expect it to be a steady, smooth, constant process. Morphing tends to be a messy journey with lots of ups and downs and twists and turns.
And there will likely be some big, unexpected roadblocks or what some call a “dark night of the soul” when what you understand about God will not seem to be enough to help you deal with the circumstance of life you are facing. Don’t be surprised and don’t abandon God or think that He has abandoned you. These unexpected and often uncomfortable trials are really opportunities to grow deeper in our relationship with God. Stay surrendered to the Spirit and lean on those who are sharing the journey. You’ll be amazed at where the journey leads you.
My daily blog entries will touch on issues related to the morphing process so check back often or sign up for the email subscription which will notify you every time I log a new entry. You’ll find this option on the sidebar to the right. And be sure to leave a comment when something resonates with you. Your honest feed-back is all part of sharing the journey and challenging one another to go further with God. You’ll also find some helpful resources on the “Good Stuff” tab.
Let the morphing begin!