In Romans 12:2, Paul encouraged the saints at Rome, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The word “transformed” is used in two other contexts. One is in 2 Corinthians 3 where Paul talks about being transformed into the image of God by the Spirit. The other is on the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus is revealed in His glory.
Transformation, from this perspective, is becoming outwardly who you really are inwardly by the power of God.
The other word here, translated “conformed,” is used in 2 Corinthians 11 where Paul wrote that the Devil “disguises” himself as a messenger of light.
If we call ourselves Christians but aren’t living transformed lives, then we are disguising who we really are. Even though we have put on Christ, we cover up His glory with rags whenever we bear His name in vain.
Living in such a way hinders our ability to let Christ’s glory, love, grace, and mercy be seen in our lives, but when we live transformed lives by consenting to Jesus who lives through us, then we can transform the world around us.
Imagine if Christians consistently came together to speak out against racism, sexism, and other types of prejudice? Imagine a world where preachers everywhere preached that we should render to Caesar what is Caesar’s? What would happen if all Christians everywhere started talking about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter Heaven? What if Christians, like Jesus, were persistent in caring for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and even those who are considered outcasts by other religious people? What if we spoke out against the violence and injustices of empires like Rome even if it meant risk being crucified?
If we did all this (which are all things Jesus regularly did), then what would the world look like?
There have always been Christians who do these things, and they have paid the price for their faithfulness on one hand and have been greatly rewarded where it counts, but it is equally true that Christians have been the enemy to some of these principles Jesus addressed consistently.
Covetousness, greed, and prejudice are all things both testaments speak out against, but between the private jet preachers of the twenty-first century and the pro-slavery advocates of the nineteenth century, Christians do not have a very good track record in the eyes of the public.
How do we change that? By being transformed. Because transformed people transform people, and if we transform the people around us, then the positive change around the world will be exponential.
Let’s all allow the One who works in us to transform us for His glory.