“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. 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 12:1-2 (NKJV)
In the 12th chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he exhorted believers to offer themselves wholly to God, so that they would no longer be “conformed to this world,” but “transformed” by the renewing of their minds. The word “conformed” has the idea of abiding by an outward system or way of life, so that the individual looks and behaves in a way identical to that system. In this case, the system that Paul warned about was the fallen and sinful system or culture of this world. The believer in Jesus is not to look nor think like the world’s culture. Instead, they are to live transformed lives!
In the Greek, the word translated “transform,” is μεταμορφόω (metamorphoō). It is the origin of the word “metamorphosis.” Like a butterfly from a caterpillar, it means to change completely into something new. Believing in Jesus and offering oneself to Him wholly, results in life transformation. As Paul wrote the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (1 Cor. 5:17).
But are we seeing transformed lives in our churches today? Lives that are markedly different than they were before? Sadly, the answer is often not. Many who claim to be Christ-followers in America today, are almost indistinguishable in their beliefs and behaviors from those of the world. They claim Christ, but they continue to conform.
As a result, several disturbing national trends are being observed:
- Church attendance averages have declined drastically. Some of this is due to COVID concerns, but the national average has been declining for the last seven years even before the pandemic.
- Believers are displaying disunity with one another over politics, social issues, and other worldly concerns, rather than showing the unity of Christ.
- According to a recent Probe Ministries poll, “nearly 70% of ‘Born-again’ Christians say other religions can lead to heaven.” This reveals the influence of pluralism on the thinking of believers today.
- According to a Lifeway poll, although 80% of church goers believe it’s important to share their faith, 61% have not done so in the last 6 months.
Perhaps the above trends might be attributed to even more disturbing ones. For among those who regularly attend church, many believers report that:
- They don’t know how to pray and read the Bible to hear from God for themselves.
- They don’t know how to share their own grace story of how Christ saved them and transformed their life.
- They don’t know how to be a disciple and make a disciple of Jesus.
Could it be that the church itself is at fault? Are we failing to make disciples as Christ commanded us? Of course, the church is us. The church is not the steeple, it’s the people. So to what part of these national trends do we have to own up? And what can we do to turn the tide?
Ask yourself. Are you living a transformed life today? Take a look at those last three bullet points. Do you know how to do those three Christian disciplines? Are you actively doing them? If not, perhaps that’s where we need to focus…