I am currently experiencing a number of changes in my life that I’m not real happy about. My daughter recently pointed to an old photograph of me and commented on how much hair I used to have. Over the past year I’ve noticed a subtle emergence of gray hair. I’ve also noticed that my body is not coping with the rigors of sport as well as it used to. I spend far too much time with my physio therapist.
Sensing my frustration with these changes, you can imagine my delight as I read about the positive transformation spoken of by the apostle Paul in 2Corinthians 4:16. Here Paul assures us, “Though outwardly, we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2Cor. 4:16).
What’s this transformation about? What are we being transformed into?
Paul answers, “(we) are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, with ever-increasing glory” (2Cor. 3:18).
We know from Romans 12 that there are things for us to do–there are things prescribed for us as we pursue Christ-likeness. In other words, growing in Christ-likeness requires our participation. But here’s the awesome thing: Growing in Christ-likeness does not depend upon your participation alone. The reason we can be confident in our spiritual progress is because God promises to help us along.
When Paul says that we “are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory“, he says in the same sentence that this “comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2Cor. 3:18).
Now, someone might ask, “Why do I need to change? Doesn’t God accept me the way I am?”
Yes, God receives you as you are, but He does not leave you the way He finds you.
Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (Ezek. 36:25, 26).
By His grace, God saves impoverished souls, and in His love He does not leave us as impoverished souls.
He cleanses us. He imparts new qualities to us. In short, God changes us.
And so, even as I mourn the breakdown of my physical body, I rejoice at the inward transformation that is taking place. And as I struggle to help this process along with my imperfect devotion to Christ, I am consoled by the fact that God is nevertheless changing me.
As the hymn writer well puts it, “Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Amazing Grace!