To be transformed is to be thoroughly changed in form, appearance or character. In nature, it happens in dramatic fashion—think of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. In today’s world, we like to call this a makeover.
Makeovers are so popular that there are whole magazines and television shows built around them—complete with “before” and “after” shots for added effect. Think of Peoplemagazine’s annual “We Lost More than 100 Pounds” issue or “Extreme Home Makeover.”
Most of these makeover shows deal with external changes that can be seen and provide a sense of instant gratification. The internal—like our character or our beliefs—can also be made over, and, while they are often harder to pick up on, the effects are often even more dramatic.
The Bible, of course, is full of such stories, though few are as extreme as that of the Apostle Paul. In Ephesians 3:8, Paul writes: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given…”
Paul had once been a zealous Pharisee who not only hated Christians but went out of his way to persecute them. Until, that is, he was converted on his way to Damascus. Paul’s transformational experience is described as miraculous and supernatural.
For Paul, radical change meant there was no looking back. A Jew called to take Christ’s message of hope and salvation to the Gentiles, Paul was so grateful and single-mindedly dedicated to his new purpose that he remained single his entire life. I somewhat cringe when I hear Bible teachers “preach” that every man was made for a woman and vice versa, as if being single was somehow less than Biblically worthy. What I find interesting with Paul is that he knew the purpose for which he was created. We don’t read of Paul on the trail to find a wife. Quite the contrary. We find Paul living out his transformation and fulfilling his God-given purpose.
I think we can look at Paul’s life and glean a few things to apply to our own lives. I believe that each of us will be faced with opportunities to be “transformed” for the better. Here is the Salt and Light I want to leave you regarding this idea of a “transformation” or “makeover”:
1. We need to be willing to be transformed. Transformation is a life-long process. Yes, we’ve made the turn onto a new road, but we then need to continuously commit to staying on that road—even when it gets hard. And that means we have to be willing to learn, willing to grow, willing to persist through adverse times, willing to give up, willing to be proven wrong and willing to trust in God’s provision and plan.
2. It takes work to be transformed. A quick fix is rarely a permanent fix. My mother always told me: “Jan, anything worth having is worth working hard for.” Living out the purpose for which we are created takes work – at times it will mean saying “yes,” at other times, it will require us to say “no.”
3. It is worthy to be transformed. Paul lived out his life as a servant of Christ and, in the last chapter of his last epistle, 2nd Timothy, he writes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness….” In my opinion, Paul is acknowledging the “worthiness” of his transformation. We’re not talking perfection here, but a life that has value—heavenly value.
Because Paul was willing to change and willing to work hard, he, with God’s strength and guidance, was able to take the Gospel message all the way to Europe, doing his part to change the world for the better.
And so I resolve every day to do my part by asking God to continue to transform my heart, my mind and my character so I can fulfill His purposes for me and, hopefully, become more like Him with each new step along the road. Talk about an extreme makeover!