A blog by Josh Humbert
Have you ever wanted to change something about yourself?
Has there ever been a moment where you just wanted to change yourself right then and there?
I have… it’s called Easter of 1985…..
Starting from left to right in that picture: My cousins Michael and Jonathan looking dapper in the bowties (eat your heart out, Bruce Bowen!) and their belt buckle-game looking VERY nice, then my brother with a classy open-button-at-the-top-and-no-undershirt look complemented with a sweet jacket.
And then there’s me.
Stuck in some mouse overalls that have daisy-duke shorts that would get me sent home from school for violating dress-code, I’m sure. That’s not a good fit to put it mildly. Quite frankly, I’m not even sure Russell Westbrook or Cam Newton would even dare to rock that outfit they put me in.
John Stockton, the guy who rocked these shorts, thinks I am out of bounds with those overall-shorts.
I wanted things changed. Now. It’s written all over my face.
What about you and what about right now? What do you want to change?
Paul lays out the call for change in the Christian’s life all through the book of Romans. In essence as we come to know, receive, and treasure the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our lives should reflect HIS authority over us. We are called to live differently, just as Christ did, so that the world can see God reflected in us.
In chapter 12, Paul lays it out this way in verses 1-2:
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Verse 2 is where we focus in now for it is so strong and impactful. We are called to not be shaped and molded by the world but we are to now “be transformed.” Changed. Different.
Note Paul does not say “transform yourself,” for this type of complete transformation is not possible by human will. This requires the work of the Holy Spirit changing us from the inside out. BUT, we have a role to play.
I’ll summarize it like this: To be transformed to is to cooperate with God on the changes He wants in your life.
This isn’t easy, it’s sometimes not very “fun,” and it won’t be celebrated by the world around you. However, this is what growth looks like. This is how you step away from who you used to be and how you become more like Christ.
This is how the monkey-daisy-duke-overalls are traded in for a proper Easter look.
If you’ve been to an airport before, you know there isn’t much “fun” to be had there either. It is long lines, stuff getting delayed, luggage getting lost, and a good chance that everything will be a hassle. Ain’t nobody throwing a birthday party there.
That’s basically what an airport is: a collection of the things grown-ups despise the most.
Except for one thing.
For me, there is one element that brings joy and makes the airport experience a little less awful. The walking-escalator thing. That thing is awesome! You step on and instantly, your walking speed increases. It’s like you immediately gain walking superpowers. “I can stop Thanos! I am Walk-Man!”
How can you not love something that makes you faster and gets you where you need to be quicker?
Ok, maybe not everyone enjoys it like I do. However, maybe there’s a picture here that helps us see it better.
This is what it looks like to cooperate with God on the changes He wants in your life. This is what a growth in personal holiness can resemble. Stop going your own way, and stop walking in your strength. Instead, get on the spiritual walking escalator and cooperate… say YES, to the changes God wants in you.
One pastor, Ray Pritchard, describes it like this:
“The more you pursue knowing God deeply, the more likely you are to end up exactly where God wants you to end up.”
Yes, there it is. When you surrender your stubbornness and instead begin walking WITH God, you will arrive where you are supposed to be.
Philippians 1:6 gives us the promise: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Or to put it another way: Cooperate with God on the changes He wants in your life and He will do beautiful things in your life. Get on His escalator and become who He made you to be.
In my study of this passage, I came across a simple formula by pastor Ray Pritchard. He summarized how Spiritual Growth (change) happens, for the most part. It goes like this:
Time + Habits of Holiness + Godly Encouragement = Spiritual Growth.
To me, that’s God’s escalator. That’s how we are no longer “conformed to this world, but transformed.”
(I’ve written about some “habits of holiness” like journaling. You can read that here)
To be sure, walking with God is never a simple formula. It’s not a mere “if I do A then He will do B” type of relationship. He’s not a math problem, He is the God of the universe – His ways are higher than ours. But in my own life, for the most part, that formula of principles has born fruit. I can attest to it.
I’m not perfect. I stumble and fall all the time. I turn around on God’s walking escalator and try to run the opposite way. I fall down. It’s by His grace that I arrive anywhere.
But when I have cooperated with Him on the work He wants to do inside me….that is when I have seen changes come.
On their 2016 record called “A Mirror Dimly,” Citizens wrote a song called “Day By Day” that is my favorite song on that album….and friends, that album is loaded with gems.
The lyrics go like this:
“Even when I’m at my worst,
I am still of righteous birth
Covered by a saving grace,
Past, present, future debt erased.
My heart is changing day by day.
When I run like wild fire,
I am still a ransomed child.
Bought with blood spilled on a tree,
Sin, death, they have no hold on me.
My will is changing day by day.
I’m not who I was,
Now I am who I am
A sinner saved
A stumbling saint
Still I’m never alone
He’s alive in my bones,
The Ghost of God, sanctifies
Day by day by day…
What I once desired for
Is not what I desire more
Heart of stone turned into flesh
Love, joy, peace taking over the mess
It’s all I’m wanting day by day….
I don’t always believe
That I’m even a saint
Justified with new life
But I’m never the same
When I remember the gift of His grace
Builds my faith
No I’m not who I am,
Yeah I am who I am
A sinner saved,
A suffering saint
I’m not ever alone
He’s alive in my bones
The Ghost of God, sanctifies
Day by day by day”
As you consider what you want to change – as you consider what God may want to do inside your heart, I hope you have the courage to say “yes.” May you find the bravery to stop running the opposite direction and instead walk with the One who made you and loves you.
There’s going to be days when you get it all wrong.
There’s going to be days when you blow it.
There’s going to be days when you fall down.
Everyone of us is a “stumbling saint.” Believe it.
But if you’re a Christian then you’re not ever alone. He’s ALIVE in your bones. Take heart – He has not given up on you. Today is a new chance to change.
It may not all change overnight – *hint* it won’t! – but let’s be confident that He who began that good work in you will perfect it.
Thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are always welcomed. If you enjoyed this, please share it. Want more content? Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast on iTunes.