“Be ye Transformed!”
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom. 12:1-2
Several months ago I was in my hometown of Musoma to visit my dad and the church there. During the Sunday service, Pastor Amas stood up to lead the service and he said, “I will tell you what pleases me in church. Let me tell you what pleases me in church!”
His eyes were gleaming with excitement.
“What I love in church”, he said, “is someone who is changing. A person who is being transformed in their lives gives me the greatest joy in church.”
And y’know, I was sitting there waiting to stand up and preach, but after I heard those words I began wondering if there was anything left for me to say.
Today I cannot recall what I preached on that day, but I do remember each word Pastor Amas said in those three or four sentences.
I am forever grateful for the Lord for allowing me to know what I know today. More and more I realize the gospel is all about a transformed life. This was the singular thing that the Apostle Paul struggled so strenuously to achieve, not only in his personal life, but in the life of every believer who came to Christ.
In Colossians 1 :24-29 he says, “24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
In his ministry, Paul worked to achieve only one thing – only one: to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. That means, simply, that we are imperfect, and we need a transforming work to perfect us in the image of Christ.
Here in Colossians, the apostle tells us what this work is: it is a mystery, the mystery of Christ in us. In other words, the riches of Christ in us is His ability to transform us! The “Christ in you” in this scripture talks of the work of the cross in us.
Many Christians’ eyes are on that word, “glory”; but they do not see the transforming work that Christ needs to do in them. They are not aware that the glory is in the transformation. Christ could give you all the Rolls Royces in the world, but if He is not transforming you, then that is not the Christ who died on Calvary! Remember Paul warns of “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4). There are many other Jesus-es out there!
Similarly, I could be physically raised from the dead like Lazarus was, but if there is no transformation in my spiritual life, if the cross is not at work in my life, that resurrection won’t amount to much. I will live for a few more years in this tiresome world, and that will be that. But to be like Christ is what God desires in my life above all.
And in Romans 12, the apostle tells us exactly how we are to achieve this transformation – it is by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. That talks of the cross again. The cross is our new altar, and our bodies are the new sacrifices. Jesus brought about a whole new way of pleasing God. Many people think God is pleased when they do things, things like giving a lot of money in church, helping the poor, etc. But that’s a big “NO!” there. God is not pleased with these things. God is pleased with a life laid on the altar. That means God is pleased with someone who is walking in the revelation of the cross in their hearts.
You can help the poor but you are proud on the inside. God wants the sacrifice of your pride, not your money. That sounds harsh, but it is the truth. And surely, it is preposterous to think that we could please God with the things we own or with our money, while the Bible declares in Psalms 50:12, “…the world is mine, and the fulness thereof”; and in Haggai, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag. 2:8).
The only thing we have that God desires are our hearts.
There are many things we do thinking we are pleasing God, but in which God is not pleased at all. And right here we can understand now why the Apostle Paul would preach no other gospel other than the mystery of Christ, Christ crucified. This is the gospel that brings death to the man on the inside.
I will tell you what pleases God. What pleases God, what God loves, is someone who is changing, changing through a revelation of and a working of the cross in their lives.
That person, whether they do or don’t do things, their work with God is done because they have given of their innermost things – their life. And the proof of their given life is the change in their lives, becoming more and more women and men of grace..
Today the church is seeking after many things, but God is seeking after only one thing: a transformed life.
[Below: This was the day Pastor Amas spoke about what pleases him in church]