Last Sunday’s sermon at my church was focused on the word transformation and how we have lost the use of this word in the church and in our lives. The passage we looked at was from Isaiah 61 v 1-3, which talks about a coming saviour, a promise God had made which will transform our lives in many ways.
Transformation requires response
I have been thinking about the ways in which my life has transformed since I became a Christian. I believe that being a Christian is about actively responding to God and to Jesus dying on the cross. It is not enough to simply “accept” God and his word and not let it change the way we live our lives. If we do not allow him to change us, then what is the point? God is not content with us living a mediocre life. He does not call me to hear his word and do nothing, he calls me to be transformed. He calls me to actively respond to him. What good is it for me to go to church every Sunday, listen to a sermon and go home, only to forget everything I have heard and live my life without a care? For me, settling for a mediocre life means settling for a life other than the one God has promised to me, settling for a life where I choose to ignore him and choose to love worldly things rather than him.
So how am I responding to God? How am I living a transformed life?
I am certainly guilty of not letting God be at the centre of my daily, normal, run of the mill days. When I do not want to do something, like get up early for work (who actually enjoys 6 am alarms??) I tell myself to ‘suck it up’ and ‘get on it with’. I grumble and with a sour face, I get things done. But this is not what God calls me to do. God calls me to excel in whatever I do. He calls me to be joyful in every circumstance. To praise him in the highs and lows of life, not just in church or whenever I feel like it. God has given me a lot to be joyful for so instead of being negative and grumpy about things, I can choose to see the positives, choose to respond with joy. My life should be a reflection of God’s grace and love for me and the joy he gives.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
[1 Peter 1:8-9]
Joy should not, however, be mistaken for happiness because while happiness is circumstantial, joy is not. I like to think of happiness as an emotion and joy as a state of the heart. Of course being joyful is not always easy and I certainly have not perfected this state of mind or heart. However, the Holy Spirit gives me the ability to be joyful even in dire situations. Having joy means being able to praise God when life throws us hurdles. It is having an unexplainable peace that God gives even when we are in turmoil.
Joy is such a wonderful thing and a testament to God’s faithfulness and love for us. He does not leave us to our own devices but helps us to be Holy and to be more like Jesus. The joy God gives cannot be easily taken away, unlike happiness which ebbs and flows depending on our life circumstances. We should strive to find joy even when life feels mediocre. I have true joy when I serve and love God. I have true joy in pleasing him and knowing that I am his child.
There are lots of other ways God has transformed me throughout my journey with him but that is a topic for another day!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.Against such things, there is no law.”