Transformed People Transform Society
I love walking into the home of parents and seeing scribbles and scrapes rising up on the wall as they mark the height of their kids as they grow up. Not only do we get to see how big they’re getting, but we also get to see their journey into maturity.
In Ephesians 4, Paul is spelling out his dream for a young church, desiring that they: “... all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ ... [that] speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” [Ephesians 4: 13 + 15 NIV]
When it comes to His Church, Jesus isn’t wanting us to remain at the same scribble on the wall by the kitchen door, living as infants. Instead, it is the intention of Jesus, that we as His body would grow up, becoming more like Him.
Yet how does that actually happen?
Just like the first disciples, Christ has spoken the words “Follow me”, over our lives, inviting us to become His apprentices.
As Dallas Willard points out, that just like Rabbis and their students or Masters and their apprentices we are invited to “become like Christ by practicing the types of activities He engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the practices He Himself practiced.”
As we read through the Gospels and see the life of Jesus displayed, we are to see a blueprint for our lives also. We are to reconstruct our lives around His ways and as we practice them time and time again, the character traits of Jesus become etched into the very fabric of our lives so that His way becomes second nature to us.
By ‘living the Christ life, in the Christ way’ [Eugene Peterson, ‘As Kingfishers Catch Fire’], and by walking in step with the Holy Spirit, who is transforming us into Christlikeness with ever increasing glory [2nd Corinthians 3:18], we can add another mark on the wall as we grow up into Christ.
At the start of this year, it’s significant to remind ourselves that Christlikeness is the ultimate pursuit of our lives. However, so often we tend to narrow this conversation down to personal piety or our own individual growth, separating our discipleship and our place in the mission of God.
Whenever we consider the invitation to transformation, it’s important to step back and consider who we’re invited to become more like.
The One who through His lifestyle demonstrated the reality of the Kingdom Come. The One who turned cities upside down. The One who is making all things new.
If we take our apprenticeship and growth into the likeness of Jesus seriously, that is good news for our towns, our cities and our culture because societies are transformed through the lifestyles of transformed people.
As we practice the way of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, not only do we experience transformation into His likeness; at exactly the same time we get to offer transformation to those around us. As we embody Christ Jesus we grow up by seeing His way continue to transform people and places through our everyday lives.
This year, maybe more than any other before, may we listen afresh to the words of our Rabbi:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” [John 14:12]
Jesus has invited you to become more like Him. He’s invited you to join Him as He makes all things new.
This year, as you experience transformation, may you not keep it to yourself.
This piece was featured in the latest edition of IDEA Magazine. Find out more about IDEA here.