There is a common misperception—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 is metamorphóō. 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. Tozer prods us at this point:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.
We must come to believe this central phrase: God is good.
- Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 (NIV2011)
- For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5 (NIV2011)
- You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:68 (NIV2011)
- Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. Psalm 135:3 (NIV2011)
- The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9 (NIV2011) [Emphasis added.]
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. We must come to love the Christian life, or we will never come to live the Christian life.
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