The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Isaiah 35.1-2, 6-8, 10
Here is the greatest misunderstanding of grace: since God changes us, we think we don’t have to keep on changing.
But we do.
You have to change.
You have to be different.
God loves you the way you are,
but He’s not pleased that you should remain this way.
He wants you to change.
This is where all our Christian vernacular falls short: discipleship, spiritual formation, Sunday school–it all focuses on learning, growing, and acquiring knowledge. While all of those things are fine, none of them best represent the full measure of what God wants from us: transformation.
Transformation means a complete change. It means a change in statistics and combinatorics. It means a change from one state (solid) to another (liquid). It means a change from a man into a lycanthrope. It means a change from a Peterbuilt 373 into an intergalactic leader of Autobots.
Transformation means one thing becoming something else.
When you come to faith in Christ Jesus, that transformation begins, but it does not end. Your transformation is not finished. And while it’s true that that transformation will never wholly be completed until your rise with Christ into new resurrection life at the end of the world, that doesn’t excuse you from taking certain baby steps now.
We find the idea of ongoing transformation incredibly unappealing most of the time, which is why it is so rare to find a Christian among us who is not an utter hypocrite. As a rule, church people are prone to intolerance concerning sexual sin and addiction of any stripe, but they court social sins like lovers and toxins. Church people will often find no spare grace for a pregnant teenage girl, but they’ll excuse any amount of gluttony, gossip, and grab for (ecclesial) power.
It is rare to find a person in church who looks to their own sins first, without concerning themselves too much over the sins of others. But this is what we must do. My point here is not about hypocrisy as much as it is that not a single one of us is yet holy enough to please the Father.
But He wants us to be.
He wants us to carve the sin out of our lives. He wants us to cultivate the best possible version of ourselves, inviting His Spirit to occupy more and more of our spiritual real estate. He wants us to give over our baser ambitions, lusts, and thoughts, renewing our minds, exchanging those older and lower things for newer and higher ones.
That is transformation. Sin-removal and righteous-infusion. It doesn’t happen through strength of will alone. It happens primarily through hospitality to the Spirit and cooperation with the will of the Father. But we still have a role to play in the process. Our willingness to be changed is paramount. Our effort to be different is vital. Our belief that we must be transformed into someone better is critical.
So begin now with this Lenten season. Fight hard to be someone better than who you are now. Know, believe, and understand that you can conquer sin by accepting the power of Christ’s Spirit. Live the life you were meant to live, instead of lamenting the life you wish you had.
This post is from Seasons of Christian Spirituality.