As a Christian, you have been genetically engineered to transform into someone more super than Superman and more incredible than The Incredible Hulk. You have the extraordinary ability to be transformed into the person of Jesus Christ.
Within you lies the potential to . . .
• Think the thoughts that Jesus thought.
• Possess the inner peace that Jesus possessed.
• Enjoy the freedom from material concerns that Jesus enjoyed.
• Experience the connection to God's power that Jesus experienced.
• Respond to mistreatment as Jesus responded.
• Receive the praise from God that Jesus continues to receive.
That’s what the essence of discipleship is: spiritual transformation. Experiencing the kind of life that Jesus experienced.
I believe there are four reasons Christians fail to experience spiritual transformation in their lives and become the disciples Christ called us to be.
1. Spiritual transformation is not necessary (John 3:36; John 12:26)
Perhaps the most pervasive reason we fail to become the disciples God wants us to be is the mistaken idea that spiritual transformation is nice, but not necessary. Receiving my free ticket to heaven is what really matters. Anything beyond that is optional. Allowing God to have reign over my thoughts, actions, and attitudes is like an upgrade from coach to first-class, a luxury reserved only for those who care to pay the extra price.
John 22:26 says, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me.” And John 14:24 says, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” It is illogical to think that we could spend our entire lives resisting or rebelling against God’s rule over our life on earth and then want to spend eternity submitting to His authority in heaven.
2. Spiritual transformation is not desirable (Matthew 13:44)
Have you noticed that it is the unpleasant things of life that we consider optional? Exercise, diets, and controlling our spending are not practiced behaviors because they are not desired behaviors. For the most part, we end up doing the things that we really want to do.
We must want to want to be like Jesus before we will ever become like Jesus. And that means being convinced that spiritual transformation is something really desirable.
3. Spiritual transformation is not possible (Romans 8:2,4)
I wish I were six-feet tall. I wish I would win the lottery. I would like to speak several languages fluently. I would like to win the Pulitzer Prize. While all of those objectives are desirable, they are either not possible or not probable. Living like Jesus Christ may be desirable but it is beyond our reach, we have convinced ourselves. So why try?
Cynicism about our ability to overcome our natural impulses has crept into the Christian world as well. Say "no" to sex outside of marriage? Resist the impulse to hurt those who hurt us? Separate our inward peace from outward circumstances? Refuse to worry about the future? Experience contentment regardless of our income? As the Seinfeld character Kramer would say, "That's kooky talk!" It's just not natural.
That's right. It's supernatural, meaning it is "above the natural." But supernatural living is possible because of the supernatural power every Christian possesses.
4. Spiritual transformation is not planned for (Luke 14:28)
Could it be that one reason you and I are not experiencing the kind of spiritual transformation I have described so far is that we do not have a plan for the renovation our attitudes, actions, and affections? Think about it.
What plan do you have for:
• Freeing yourself from concerns about money?
• Conquering those addictions that are destroying your life?
• Refusing to allow resentment to be your response to mistreatment?
• Making obedience to God's commands your normal response?
This kind of spiritual transformation doesn't just happen. Believing that this kind of transformation is essential, desirable, and possible isn't enough. We must develop a plan and execute it. Costly? You better believe it. Difficult? Without a doubt. But the finished product is well worth the effort.