The ultimate goal of Christianity is transformation…from unrighteous to righteous…from takers to givers…from hearers to doers…from people of the world to people of God…from self-centered to Christ-centered…from lovers of the flesh to lovers of the Spirit…from independent to interdependent…from inevitable death to everlasting life. Transformation is an ever changing process that shapes the life of a Christian, a congregation, and a city.

Transformation begins in the life of an individual person (man, woman, boy, or girl) who becomes a Christian. But how does this happen? It happens through a life-long process of discipleship - becoming fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.

The transforming agent is the Holy Spirit who gives us power to live the Christian life (see Acts 1:8; Romans, chapter 8). The Holy Spirit is ever present to transform that which is willing to be transformed.

Consider the following scriptures as they pertain the transformation of a Christian:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (Cor. 3:18, NIV).

All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him (2 Cor. 3:18, The Message).

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. [2] Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).

The word "transformed"comes from the Greek word metamorphoo (met-am-or-fo'-o), which means "to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure." The word "metamorphosis" is derived from this word, which we use to describe the process of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.

Transformation is a methamorphosis process of change that transforms a Christian into a new creature for Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new
(2 Cor. 5:17, KJV).

In terms of Christian growth, the sparks that ignite the transformation process are sincere passion for God and genuine compassion for people.

As Christians, we must be willing to allow transformation to happen. If we resist, the default circumstances are complacency, spiritual lethargy, and apathy. We (as a Christian, a community, or a city) decide what posture we take in embracing transformation. Among the three types of people in the world today, we decide to be among,

Those Who Make
Things Happen
Those Who Watch
Things Happen
Those Who Say,
"What Happened?"





Transforming the Life of a Christian





Transformation is also a process that involves a "paradigm shift" - changes in the way we think and act. Sometimes this "shift" is known as "seasons" in our life when changes occur in our motivation, interests, and activities.

The word paradigm comes from the Greek word (paradeigmia) which means "pattern" or "example," from the word (paradeiknunai) meaning "demonstrate." We all pattern our lives according to beliefs, concepts, values, and practices that are held deeply within our hearts. These patterns (paradigms) govern our lives and direct our actions.

Our paradigms also result from the relationships that impact our lives and the influences of our culture. Paradigms are also influenced by our objective and subjective perception of reality. Objective perception is what we see…based upon facts that can be verified. Subjective perception is how we see (perceive) it…based upon personal interpretations, values, and judgments.

When our most fundamental assumptions are shaken leading us to an entirely different ways of looking at things, then we experience a "paradigm shift," an often radical change of paradigms.

In many ways becoming a Christian is a paradigm shift, where everything we once accepted as real, true, and important is called into question by the claims of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible. As Christians we experience a "paradigm shift" or radical change in our thinking and our behavior. The Apostle Paul encourages us to follow through with these "paradigm shifts," which lead us into a transformation process that changes our lives for Christ.

In terms of our thinking Paul says,

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2, NIV).

In terms of our behavior, Paul says,

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV).

To further illustrate this transformation process, Peterson writes in The Message,

Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed matur
ity in you (Romans 12:2).

We can help empower transformation in the life of a Christian.
The transformational tools we use include:

· Discovery Seminars - training series on the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit, definitions and proper usage of spiritual gifts, and placement in ministry. Also included are Spiritual Gifts and Personality Profiles.

· Life Management Skills - training series on how to manage the daily aspects of your life.

· Basic Christianity - training series on how to become a Christian and maintain a Christian lifestyle

· Discipleship Training  - training series in how to become a "disciple" of Jesus Christ and a "discipler."

· The Power of Relationships - training series on how to "connect" with people and develop healthy relationships.

In his classic work entitled Disciples Are Made Not Born, Walter Hendrichsen writes, "Make disciples" is the mandate of the Master (Matt. 28:19-20). We may ignore it, but we cannot evade it. Our risen Christ left this legacy - the magna charta of the church. He provided both the model and the method. His life - and death - recast the lives of men. He demonstrated that you have not done anything until you have changed the lives of men. Much of the feverish and frustrating activity of the contemporary church is devoid of relevance and fulfillment. Entertainment, not education, is our program. Laymen are disenchanted. They are looking for an involvement with eternal bite. C. S. Lewis said it; 'All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.'"

Making disciples and disciplers is the process that makes transformation happen.
There are no short-cuts to making disciples. Unfortunately, many churches (for whatever reasons) have fallen short in their efforts to transform the lives of Christian into fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. Transformation is an "intentional process" that requires much investment in the building of solid relationships.

Consider the following illustration. The vertical dimension of the cross represents our relationship with God; the horizontal dimension represents our relationship with people. Where these two intersect is the "heart" of the gospel. Both are just as important as the other.

Christianity is all about right relationships, both with God
and with people.

Jesus said:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39. NIV).

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35, NIV).

John the Apostle said:

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love
(1 John 4:11-12, The Message)!

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