Preaching: Becky Mueller
Date Presented: Sunday, September 25, 2016
Scripture Reference: Romans 12:1-8
Sermon: Imagine the People of God: Transformation
[Malakai shows toy transformer after video.] Notice – just a few moves and a totally new toy is designed to be “just what is needed for the situation;” ready to go, fully functional. If only in our lives. . .
Imagine being fully transformed – a few simple adjustments changed into a “new” you. Living into the life God designed us for – loving, forgiving, wonderfully spiritual beings with no more issues or illnesses. Wouldn’t that be truly heaven on earth? Peace worldwide, the end of hunger, homelessness, disease, sorrow, disappointment, and even death – that is what we would like to imagine – if only we would all be transformed and be like Jesus.
The problem is true transformation involves hard work and time. It requires a long-term commitment from us.
In the beginning, God. Creation started from nothing and took 6 days to be complete. And that was with God doing it! Creation is still evolving and changing. Every natural disaster changes the landscape whether by erosion, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, and more. Man is constantly changing the landscape and environment as well, with fires, bulldozers, pollution, chemicals, drilling down and building up.
Man was formed from dust and mud. Life was breathed into this new creation which was designed in God’s image and made for fellowship with him. Woman was an additional creation but made differently – she was formed with a rib from man. Still designed in God’s image and made for fellowship with God and man. Imagine if we fulfilled this purpose in our transformation.
Transformation of God’s chosen people continued after the Garden of Eden. What was cast out was given another way to transform themselves and the world. This way required blood and sweat and tears and eventually led to death on a cross.
Abraham was called out to be separate from the rest of the world. Realize that he was never immune from trouble, disaster, or conflict. Abraham was supremely tested with the sacrifice of Isaac. He was asked to offer a living sacrifice that was pure and perfect without spot or blemish. Abraham had to offer everything completely to God.
Throughout the Bible, God reminds us, “I am the potter, you are the clay.” We are called to place ourselves on the potter’s wheel and be shaped and formed. Often the clay is punched and prodded and then replaced on the wheel to begin again. Ultimately we can be formed into the object God has designed us for. Imagine being that most precious and useful vessel in God’s house. Imagine being transformed.
God calls on us to be tested and tried. We are given salvation as a free gift from God but that did not automatically give us immunity from the troubles of this world. God wants us to grow and respond in the manner prescribed by him. We can never know the strength of our faith and beliefs if they are never called upon to be tested and determined.
We are to be refined like silver and gold – only by going through the fire are those metals purified and valuable. All the impurities need to be removed in order to make silver and gold pliable and useful. We are sometimes asked to go into the fire with God. We don’t have to do it alone. Once refined, our value, like precious metals, is greatly increased. Unrefined gold is still gold just like once saved, always saved – but we can be made much more than just forgiven.
So many of our hymns reflect the language of this process; shape and mold me; wash me and cleanse me; make me white as snow; make me precious in your sight.
Nature teaches this lesson many ways – look at the process of metamorphism – a hairy, multi-legged caterpillar is fed by wild plans like milkweed. He eats his fill and soaks up the warm sunlight. Then he weaves his home and goes to sleep. God works on him and when he awakes, he has been transformed into a monarch butterfly, one of the most beautiful and majestic of the butterflies. Imagine going through the process and being transformed by God into something beautiful and majestic. Imagine.
So what would our transformation involve? First step is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and receiving eternal salvation. We are unable to be transformed into God’s image without this step of faith and belief. Salvation is permanent – not dependent on our choices or actions. Matthew tells us what total transformation is when he records the transfiguration of Jesus described in chapter 17. This was the ultimate transformation – one we will spend our entire lives striving for.
As stated in our scripture reading today, “Present your body a living sacrifice holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may provide what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
What does that mean? Basically that we as Christians should outwardly manifest our inner redeemed natures every day. This should be our reasonable and logical reaction to the gift of salvation Christ bestowed on us. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Transformed by the application of God’s love and gifts, each of us receives the exact gift and resources we need to fulfill our particular role in the body of Christ. Paul states in Romans 12, our reading this morning, “If your gift is prophesy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attaches. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.”
We are transformed by using our gifts as we transform the world around us. We grow in love and knowledge of God as we study his word and do his bidding. As we recognize and implement our gifts and calling we are transformed into God’s design for us.
Paul continues, “Love should be shown without pretending, hate evil, and hold onto what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic – be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you – bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.”
Our starting point is living into God’s command to Love one another – without question, without regard to social/economic/racial/educational level/religious views, etc., etc. Not as simple as it first sounds. The ideal is wonderful; the application much more difficult.
The Holy Spirit is our helper in all of this by renewing our minds, by changing our thinking, focusing our thoughts on those things that are rich and pure.
Become transformed – not conforming to the world around us. To conform is the outward expression – in our case, a masquerade or act, because it’s not a real reflection of what is inside. We are the children of God, redeemed and bought with a price. Our salvation is assured whether our outward appearance reflects that or not.
Once again, we are called upon to show our inner redeemed natures daily. We do this by being a living sacrifice, showing our unconditional love to each of God’s creations and using our God-given gifts, talents and skills to make the world a better place. We are to live into all the promises God has given us intertwined with the wonderful gift of eternal life.
Imagine the world transformed by the growth and transformation of each of us. Imagine the world a kinder and gentler place because we ourselves are kinder and gentler.
As Mahatma Gandhi challenged, “We must be the change we want in the world.” Are you up to the challenge? With God’s help and guidance we are.