The gospel is righteousness from God that transforms us from the inside out. Transformation is the fruit of faith.”-unChristian
Girls, I adore Spring.
Recently, I bought my first house and moved in the “dead of winter.” (Okay, so that’s kind of a drastic statement for someone who lives in Houston, Texas. But, it did dip down into the frigid forties this past January, which felt very tundra-like to this Texas girl.)
I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, Spring.
So, when I moved in I noticed these dead twigs and sprigs in my yard. I supposed them to be unwanted weeds that I would eventually get around to removing. But then, something happened…Spring arrived.
Low and behold, I now have a garden! Those lifeless twigs are in full-bloom. My yard is brimming with new life, and looks quite lovely I might add.
With springtime comes another symbol of new life…Easter. All over the world this past weekend Christians celebrated the resurrection of our Christ. I like to sum up Easter in one word: transformation . Think about it…. Death becomes Life. The perfect symbol of our faith.
As Christians, we believe in a God who transforms us for His glory by giving us new life in Him. Jesus, our Redeemer, takes our brokenness and makes us whole. He gives sight to the blind, hope to the hopeless, and brings light to the darkness. Miraculously, sinners become saints. Like my garden, Jesus transforms us from spiritually dead to people that blossom with the fruit of His Spirit. (Ephesians 2: 1-2; Galatians 5:23-24)
Sadly, this is not the message we (the church) are sending the world. I’ve been reading a book called unChristian. The authors have this to say:
"Christians are supposed to represent Christ to the world. But according to the latest report card, something has gone terribly wrong. Using descriptions like “hypocritical” to describe the church…young Americans share an impression of Christians that’s nothing short of ….unChristian.”
This book elaborates on the problem by saying that the lifestyle of Christians is not different from those who don’t know Christ. Simply, we are not bearing fruit that represents Jesus to the world. Our lives don’t testify transformation.
I’ve been thinking about this problem quite a bit lately. If, the message of the gospel is the power of God’s grace to transform us, then why doesn’t the world see us as transformed people? I think the primary problem is an old one. We have substituted God’s transforming power for our own human effort. And, let’s face it; we simply aren’t very good at changing ourselves.
Transformation happens in the human soul when we see our brokenness and turn to God in our weakness and surrender to God’s spirit for life. It is not about human effort, it is 100% about Christ-dependence.
Thinking about my new garden, I’m struck by the fact that I’ve never once overheard my rose bushes whining and complaining about the difficulty of producing a rose. Nope, not once did I hear my peonies huffing and puffing in their effort to produce colorful blooms. The reason? They followed the simple God-given design for bearing fruit—they remain abiding to their vine.
I think the book unChristian raises an important point. For many, the Christian faith is about a one-time decision to pray a prayer or walk an aisle or check a box. This type of experience is only the first step. The Christian faith—the one that transforms—is the result of daily abiding in the object of our faith…Jesus Christ.
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus explained the secret to fruitfulness to His disciples by saying:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-5 NIV)
The secret to seeing the life-transforming power of God in our lives is staying connected to the Life-Transformer, Jesus Christ. It is that simple.
Our only hope for transformation is in Him. There is no method, no program, no plan, no iPhone app, prescription, or a handy-dandy quick fix that can transform us…just the glorious Son shining upon us, and His Spirit’s power flowing through us every single day.
Friends, if we want our lives to testify of God's transforming power, we must ABIDE!