“The transformation the church needs is the kind that results from beholding the glory of God in the face of Christ” (Jim Hamilton).
Do we need transformation? I think it’s clear in this fallen and sinful world that transformation is needed. I think it is clear to see that in many churches in the United States, transformation is desperately needed. Sin continues to run its course since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Paul makes it clear in Romans 12:2 that apart from God’s grace, our minds are conforming to the patterns of this world. This is why he urged the Romans to not be conformed to the patterns of this world but to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.”
In Galatians 2:20, Paul describes gospel transformation. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Being crucified with Christ is a heart, soul, and body transformation. It is a past reality for those who are in Christ. It is a future reality that we set our sights on when we are glorified with Christ. But then transformation is also a present reality for us as we daily pursue sanctification.
In Romans 12:1, Paul is talking to the church in Rome. Visible churches today and visible churches in the early church are made up of a mixed group of non-believers and believers. The invisible church, however, is the true church of God, made up of true followers of Christ. When Paul is speaking in Romans 12, it is clear to see that he is talking to the believers that make up the church in Rome. He says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers.” When he says “therefore” he is connecting Romans 1-11 to the application he is drawing out in 12-16, which means he is basically saying, “Since the previous 11 chapters apply to you, therefore live them out.” When he calls the Romans “brothers,” he is referring to them as Christian brothers. He is exhorting Christian brothers (and sisters) who were once transformed (crucified with Christ) to continue to be transformed. So, transformation is needed for those who are lost and without Christ. Transformation is also needed for those who are following Christ because the world is constantly conforming minds to itself (Romans 12:2).
You need transformation. As long as we are living in this world, the patterns of this world, the seductions of the flesh, and our enemy the devil are looking to lead us away from Christ-likeness. Because “making us holy is God’s unwavering agenda” (Paul Tripp), the singular goal that we should have as people of God is to glorify God by being daily transformed into the image of Jesus Christ as we immerse ourselves in the gospel. As holy as you might think you are today, God’s holiness is that much farther above us. And since God’s call to believers is to be holy as God is holy, what we learn is that we have not arrived. Transformation is to be a daily goal.
On one hand, transformation is simply living as we are. Live with the understanding of the gospel’s past power in your heart and in your life. Live out who you are: a new creation. On the other hand, being transformed is to be our daily pursuit. Is it your daily pursuit? As you seek the transformation that we are called to pursue, follow Jim Hamilton’s words closely: “Behold the glory of God in the face of Christ.”