There is a common mis-perception—inside and outside the church—that Christian living is fundamentally about trying really hard to be good. It is not. It is about being transformed. This has a lot to do with changing the way we think:
Do not conform 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 (NIV2011)
This word translated transformed ismetamorphóō. We get our word metamorphosis from this word, and it is beautifully illustrated by what happens to a butterfly when it is transformed from an egg to a caterpillar to a chrysalis to a butterfly. A butterfly is not a caterpillar that is trying really hard to fly. Caterpillars can’t try really hard to fly. They have to be transformed. We can’t live the Christian life by trying really hard, although, trying really hard has its place. Some Christians don’t try hard enough. We will get into that later. In this chapter we want to explore how God changes our thinking.
God is good
The fundamental change that God wants to do in our thinking revolves around the nature of God Himself. We must come to believe this central phrase: God is good.
The reason unbelievers don’t want to come to God is because they don’t believe God is good. They don’t believe it would be good for them to follow God. They don’t believe it is in their best interest to live the Christian life.
The reason believers struggle with the demands of discipleship is the same. They don’t believe—really believe—God is good. They don’t believe—really believe—it would be good for them to follow God. They don’t believe—really believe—it is in their best interest to fully and whole-heartedly live the Christian life.
We are irrevocably hard-wired to do what we believe to be in our best interest. We will always do—in the long run—what we believe is best for us. People who believe that exercise is good for them exercise. People who believe that eating healthfully is best eat healthfully. People who believe that it is best to memorize scripture do so.
Belief and belief
You might object that this is not true. You might think that you believe exercise is good, but you don’t exercise and you should have a Quiet Time, but you didn’t this morning. Let’s look at two ways we use this word belief.
I had a long layover in Auckland, New Zealand once. Someone had told me about the Sky Tower. At over 1000 feet, it is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere. It is roughly the height of the Empire State Building.
But, the Sky Tower has a twist. They will let you jump off.
They call it SkyJump. They attach you to a wire that will allow you to free-fall from the Sky Tower for about half its height. Then, the contraption slowly brings you to the ground at a safe speed. It is an adrenalin rush just watching the videos. http://www.skyjump.co.nz/You really need to watch the video to grasp what I am getting at.
I believe this contraption is safe. They have an impeccable safety record. No one has ever been killed or even injured on the SkyJump. From their webpage:
Safety is one thing you don’t have to worry about! SkyJump is OSH approved and very rigorous safety standards are upheld. Our Jump Masters undergo intensive training and always operate in teams, checking each other’s work as they go. SkyJump is an adventure activity with a very low real risk but very high perceived risk, so as the saying goes – it’s mind over matter!http://skywalk.co.nz/about/faqs/
I believe the SkyJump is safe. I believe if a million people jumped off, a million people would land safely. I believe the cables are strong. I believe the workers are well-trained. I believe the system is checked and re-checked. I believe they have a strong incentive beyond morality to avoid an accident. One accident could ruin their business for good. I believe the SkyJump is safe.
So, I went to the SkyJump. I took the elevator to the top. They strapped me in. They attached the cable. They told me to jump.
I couldn’t jump.
Did I believe? On one level, I did. I really did. I still do. I just didn’t believe enough to take that last step. This is the difference between believing and believing.
Lots of people believe that God is good in the way that I believe the SkyJump is safe. They believe in theory. They don’t believe enough to trust their life to God.
I have just released a series of 13 lessons that go in depth into each of these principles. (One introductory lesson, and one lesson on each of the 12 principles.) If you are a member ofGood Questions Lesson Subscription Service, you already have access to these lessons. If not, they will be available on Amazon soon.
Click here to access Transformed by… lessons.