We are called by God to be salt, light, and to love everyone as we love ourselves. But are we called to be like a transformer for either our own life or other people’s lives?
A transformer is: 1. a passive component that transfers electrical energy from one electrical circuit to another circuit, or multiple circuits. 2. A person or thing that transforms; i.e., “A transformer of recruits into soldiers.” 3. to mark a thorough or dramatic change in the nature, condition, form, or function of; to change in disposition, heart, character, etc; to convert.
In the last 3 days, I have read, reread, and listened to Paul’s brief New Testament letter to Philemon five times. Paul’s purpose in writing this while he was in a Roman prison becomes clear by verse 10 (out of 25) in his one-chapter book. His purpose is certainly as relevant to us now as it was then. This message is timeless, so our response to these God-inspired words should result in a life dramatically changed, even transformed, or of multiple lives changed as we have a direct affect on others. But how, you ask?
A wealthy man named Philemon had many slaves around 2,000 years ago. At some point, he heard the gospel of Jesus, and became a devoted christian, and close friends with the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, whose life had also been dramatically changed. One day, one of Philemon’s slaves named Onesimus ran away and fled to Rome, the largest city near his home in Colossae. While in Rome, Onesimus heard the gospel message and also became a christian, a believer in Jesus, and a friend of the Apostle Paul. As a result, his life was greatly transformed. Here is how Paul puts it in his letter to Philemon:
“..that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”
Can you feel the intensity of Paul’s genuine love for Onesimus and Philemon? He knows how completely his new friend’s life has changed, and desires for Philemon to recognize this and respond accordingly through reconciliation in a kind, generous, Christ-like way. This would require Philemon to forgive his slave, and accept him back not only as a slave and forgiving his debt, but as a fellow brother in Christ, placing him on a level of friendship that God gives us as well.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Scripture states, as well as proof of people’s lives, that it is the Holy Spirit who renews our mind, changes our will, equips us through God’s Word, and gives us heavenly power; all for the purpose of living out the transformed life that forgives others, reconciles us to others and vice versa, and serves God and others (in that order); therefore we are fruitful in doing the Lord’s will, not our own.
The Old Testament spoke of it:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
The New Testament speaks of it:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”
It sounds like we as believers in who Jesus is and his work done on the cross are a tool, an engine of or type of transformer in how we actively carry out our mission – encouraging others to be made new – but ultimately, the One who energetically transforms and changes each of us is who we give the credit to: the Spirit of God.
We cannot do this of our own accord without the unending, perfecting work of the Holy Spirit flowing through our hearts and veins.
“..for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
As Paul did, I ask you: Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive that has wronged you? If your heart and mind have been renewed by the Holy Spirit, then you must consider forgiving that person, and reconciling that relationship by perhaps accepting them back into your family, your life, your business, especially if their life has been called by God as yours has. We are equal in standing before our Lord as forgiven, and as such, we choose to be a willing slave to Jesus and The Way; the way of living and serving God Almighty.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;”
Food for thought: As Christians, we should be in a continual stage of growth and change. How has your character or heart been transformed in the last year?
Fun facts: The process of a caterpillar changing to a butterfly is called metamorphosis. This is a Greek word that means transformation or change in shape. The pupa stage, otherwise known as being in the cocoon, can last anywhere from a few weeks to a month, or for certain species up to two years.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – The Butterfly: a life transformed
***There are SO many passages that speak about this topic! Just a few more…
“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.”
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17