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Transformed for Significance
After three generations of living in the back country with no contact to the outside world, a father decided it was about time they saw what had become of the world. They finally came to the big city where they saw buildings so tall that they quickly became intimated.
Leaving his wife and daughter at the outskirts of the city he and his son made their way to one of these giant buildings. They walked into the lobby and saw things they never saw before. But with everything they saw there was one thing that held the father’s attention.
There were two large metal doors with lights on the side and at the top. Soon an elderly lady went up to these doors and pushed the buttons at the side. The doors opened and she got in and then the doors closed.
The lights above the doors started to light up, one, two, three, and higher it went. After it stopped the lights started flashing again in the opposite direction. Afterwards the doors opened and a beautiful young lady stepped out.
Flabbergasted the father turned to his son and said, “Wait right here, I’m going to get you mother and run her through that thing.”
While humorous, and something that will get me into more trouble than I think it was worth, the unfortunate reality is that many view their new life in Christ much the same way. That is, walk in and walk out as a whole new and improved person.
They want instant Christianity where they look just like Jesus after coming forward and accepting Him as their Savior and Lord.
The sad reality, however, is that they get rude awaking when they discover that holiness and Christlikeness isn’t instant.
The reason most people think this way is because of the society we live in. It produces a false mentality, that is, everything is microwavable.
We live in an instant society. We’re a people that are always on the go, and if something doesn’t come quickly enough, we move on. Why sit down for a meal when we can drive through. Why get out of the car when we can eat it on the go.
And even when we do sit down for a meal, most of it is instant and microwavable. Pop it in and ding, three minutes later you have a piping hot meal.
Think about it, how often do we see these words on food packaging: prepared, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned, and pre-sliced. I’m waiting for the newest set of “pre’s,” that is, pre-chewed and pre-digested, all we have to do is swallow, and the rest have already been done for us.
(Now go out and enjoy your lunch)
It’s unfortunate, but this microwave mentality has done a lot of damage. You see, maturity doesn’t come out of a box. You cannot find it in a box of Cracker Jacks. There’s no such thing as completion in a can.
Rather, maturity is a process, and it takes both time and energy. Maturity involves transformation, and transformation involves a struggle.
Consider the butterfly, it doesn’t start out as a butterfly, it starts as a caterpillar in a cocoon, and then it fights and struggles to get out. Now, if you help in the process trying to make it easy for the butterfly, it stunts the butterfly and it comes out crippled and unable to fly.
This is what has been happening in this world, as people want the easy way, rather than working. In fact, for many in our instant everything world, working is like a dirty word and seems somewhat heretical.
In fact, living so close to Las Vegas this is easy to see. Vegas was built on the illusion of quick riches. Hit Mega Millions, a jackpot, or draw a royal flush and you’re set for life.
But it’s all one big façade. Get past the glitzy lights and opulence and you run smack dab into the cold hard reality and the hard facts of life.
While in college I worked at the old Mint Hotel on Fremont Street. I worked in purchasing. And to get to purchasing you go into the hotel with all the plush carpeting and wallpaper, through a door where you now are walking down a hall with concrete floors, metal grate stairs, chain link fences and into a cold and ruthless environment.
In fact, the back loading dock was in the ally and what you smelled was rotten garbage and you would see many homeless laying in the gutter or sitting up against the walls. And the sad part of this story is that most people still want to believe in the façade; rather than the reality.
What is a façade? It’s a superficial appearance or an illusion of something that it’s not.
In my trips through Nevada I’ve seen many a façade. They are often times found in small roadside cafés or casinos. If you look at the front they look like they’re new, updated, and thriving. But once you walk around to the side you see another picture. It’s usually an old dilapidated building and much smaller than what the front would indicate.
What I’ve discovered is that we’re not much different. Our spiritual lives take on a façade because we don’t want to take the time or effort necessary to allow the change God desires to take place, and so we give off the illusion that we’re something that we’re not.
But God is not impressed by our outside appearances. Rather, He’s concerned with the inward.
In choosing David over his brothers, the Lord said, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b NKJV)
God’s sees the inward man, not the costumes and facades we put on, and His desire is to see us transformed through the inward working of the Holy Spirit, and stop being changed by the surrounding world.
The Bible says,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 NKJV)
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)
Unfortunately, most Christians are conformed rather than transformed. What do I mean?
To conform means to mold or form something based upon something else. It is outward change that takes place. Kind of like the surrounding landscape. The effects of wind, rain, and temperature have changed the landscape.
We as Christians are being changed the same way, and that’s because the world requires and demands conformity. But as Christians we must stand firm and remain resolute in our convictions. There truly is no room for compromise.
And so, Paul is not only warning, but commanding Christians to stop this practice. He’s basically saying, “Hey, stop masquerading in the costume of this world if you say you’re a Christian.”
But as Christians, I think we become conformed in other ways, not only to the world, but to the illusion of what we think Christianity is. Therefore, a form of superficiality occurs, where instead of worldly costumes, we start putting on Christian costumes in our mannerisms, speech, expressions, styles, and habits.
It’s what Paul describes will happen in the end times where people will have the form of godliness but deny where it all comes from, that is Jesus Christ.
You see, the power of godliness doesn’t come from outward expressions, but rather it comes from an inward change. It’s what called “transformation.” Biology calls it a metamorphosis.
We see an example of this in the change in the life of a caterpillar. It forms a cocoon and out from that cocoon comes a beautiful butterfly.
This is the change that Paul says must happen in the life of a believer. It’s a radical change, a change from the inside out. As a new creation in Christ, the same power that transformed Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration is within us.
It says, “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:2 NKJV)
They saw the glory of His divine essence, that which was His very being, shone through the His human body. And Jesus was indeed God in human flesh, and it says in John’s Gospel, that the Word of God, who is God, became flesh and dwelt among us, and it says that we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of God (John 1:1, 14). In other words, His divinity was seen through His humanity.
Therefore, as a new creation in Christ, and the ever-abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, the same transformative power resides within us, as we shine forth the glory of Jesus Christ through these human bodies.
But just like that butterfly, it’s not an easy task and it involves struggle. If you clip open the cocoon, the butterfly will not fly. It’s the butter without the fly. And the same goes for us. There are no short cuts to holiness. In other words, we should never let the illusion be a substitute for the substance.
The key then to holiness is transparency. An openness and honesty about our sins and shortcomings, and a willingness to admit wrong, and then a willingness to repent, that is, to turn away from our sins and to turn towards God.
It is from the tale of King David and King Saul that we see the supernatural life as compared to the superficial life.
“Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.” (2 Samuel 3:1 NKJV)
What we see is that Saul, and his heritage and anointing, was continually growing weaker, while David grew increasing stronger.
Both were anointed by God. Saul’s anointing is not in question. We see this when it says that God turned Saul into another man (1 Samuel 10:6). Even as he was running away from Saul David affirmed this anointing and when the opportunity came, David wouldn’t raise his hand against Saul, whom he called God’s annointed (1 Samuel 26:9).
Yet, Saul, because of his disobedience to God, was rejected, even though anointed (1 Samuel 15:23). It says that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul (2 Samuel 16:14).
David was also anointed by God (1 Samuel 16:12-13). In fact, he was chosen over his other brothers, those who would have had more claim to the throne.
And so, from our story of David and Saul we see how we can be transformed into significance.
Know Who We Are
Saul lost sight of who he was in the eyes of God. He didn’t see Himself as chosen by God to make a difference; rather he saw himself as nothing.
“Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21 NKJV)
I’ve also seen this in many Christians who don’t truly know who they are in Christ. One person said, “I am nothing but puffed up dust.”
But my response was that he had forgotten one thing. He had forgotten that it was the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, which blew His breath inside of him, who puffed him up.
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus breathes upon us, like He did His disciples after the resurrection saying to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
When this transformation occurs, not only are we significant because the Holy Spirit now resides within us, but we are also significant because we are a part of God’s family.
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2 NKJV)
David knew who he was in the Lord. When Samuel anointed David, it says that from that day on the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon him. This is something David knew and didn’t want this anointing to ever leave, even when he blew it so badly with Bathsheba.
David prayed, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11 NKJV)
And so, David, as it is with all who come into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we need to know for positive who we are in the Lord, that we are truly significant because not only does the temple of God and of the Holy Spirit reside within us, but we are also children of the Most High God.
We see David’s understanding of this early on when he confronted Goliath, which leads me to the second aspect from Saul and David’s life.
Know Our Calling
Saul never understood God’s calling on his life.
We see this when he literally tried to hide from it. When they were looking to anoint him as king, Saul was hiding in amongst the baggage (1 Samuel 10:22).
God has a calling for all of our lives, each one different, but each one important. But too often we fear it. We’re afraid because we don’t want anything to upset our little world. So, we hide ourselves in the baggage of our past and stuff we think we need to do.
What we need to understand is that God’s calling is sure and he will bring to completion the good work He began in us (Philippians 1:6), and make us compete in every good work to do His will (Hebrews 13:21).
“Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:30 NKJV)
David on the other hand never hid from his calling but trusted in God and moved out in confidence and faith. We see this in the Goliath story.
He told Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV)
What is interesting in this story, when it comes to knowing our calling, is when Saul tried to put his armor onto David for the battle. David tried it on, but refused it because it was made for Saul, not for Him.
God has called us to be exactly who we are, not someone else. We are never to put on someone else’s armor, or the calling God has given to them, nor in like manner are we to try to imitate what God is doing in someone else’s life.
Whom God calls, God equips to do what only He has called them to do. So instead of wearing Saul’s armor, David meets Goliath with a sling shot and five stones. And through the Lord, David won the battle and the day.
Know What It Takes
Saul failed to acknowledge his sin and repent.
In his first battle, Saul failed to trust God. Seeing the people scatter before the Philistine army, Saul made an offering to God, that which was never His responsibility and directly against God’s word. When the prophet Samuel confronted him, Saul rationalized it away and blamed others (1 Samuel 13:1-13)
God also called Saul to completely destroy Amalek for its treachery, but Saul didn’t follow God’s instructions, sparing the king and the best of the livestock. Again, when confronted by Samuel, Saul rationalized his decision and again blamed others (1 Samuel 15)
David, on the other hand, when confronted with his sin with Bathsheba confessed and repented. He never sluffed it off to his temperament, upbringing, or whether or not he was a victim of society.
David knew enough and confessed and asked God’s forgiveness.
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight–that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4 NKJV)
He then asked the Lord to wash and cleanse him from His sin, and to renew His heart and spirit (Psalm 51:1-2, 7, 10).
Saul had been anointed by God. He looked like a king, spoke like a king, wore kingly armor and had the weapons to prove his status. But somewhere along the way Saul decided the image was more important than the reality.
Saul’s life was a spiritual façade, that is, a superficial appearance giving the illusion of what he wasn’t. He wore a mask and a costume. He had the mannerisms, speech, expressions, styles, and habits. He had the form of godliness but denied its power.
Remember, the power of godliness doesn’t come from outward expressions, but from an inward change. It doesn’t conform to the situation; rather it is transformative.
David had little to recommend him on the outside. He was more of a kid than a king. He didn’t wear the armor of man, but his armor was from God. And even though he had some serious moral and judgmental issues, he never tried to be who he wasn’t. He was real and honest, and openly wept in repentance when he sinned against God.
As Christians we need to move from the superficial and into the supernatural. And the only way we can do this is to be completely transparent before both God and man. We need to stop wearing Christian costumes and masks and start putting on Christ instead.
No longer are we to be conformed to this world or even to religion or religious traditions, but rather we are to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit residing inside. And then this transformation towards significance will happen.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study