Ask any butterfly if God has changed its life, and the answer will be a resounding YES! But according to the respected Gallup and Barna research organizations, you wouldn't get the same response from the average American who believes in Christ.
Sadly, recent research from both Gallup and Barna indicates that the decision to follow Christ makes surprisingly little difference in how the average American believer lives. It doesn't change where they spend their time or how they arrange their priorities. It doesn't affect their integrity at work, their sexual expression, their commitment to marriage, or their principles of parenting.
Why? Most likely it's because these believers got a little bit of the Easter story, but never fully understood the foundational truths of what was accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection. And that's the core, the basis for the metamorphosis of the believer. And without that, there's no real change.
Perhaps you've faced a similar struggle. Perhaps you went to camp or a church service and prayed to receive Christ. Then you tried hard to be good for three or four days, or weeks, or years. But you've realized that you're still sinning a lot. You're still struggling with the same stuff. It sure is hard. You want to change, but you feel as if you're still stuck in the cocoon.
If that's where you are today, or if that describes someone you know, what I'm about to share is going to be a tremendous blessing for you. Here are five principles of metamorphosis, of life change, that I believe can help bring you or any believer out of the cocoon and into a transformed life.
Principle #1: Life Change Always Begins with the Truth
Life change, real life change, is always rooted in the truth. And the first truth you have to understand is that the power to live a new life was made possible by Christ's death and resurrection. Christ broke the power of sin so you are no longer its captive.
God wants you to change. He wants you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling. But He's not asking you to try harder or do better. Christianity isn't about a code of ethics. Christianity is about a relationship with Christ, and part of being in that relationship is receiving from Him the power to change.
Principle #2: Life Change Demands That We Act on the Truth
Christ won the victory over sin, but you don't become a co-partaker of Christ's victory until the moment you receive Christ as your personal savior by faith. The moment that happens, your past is put behind you, the spirit of God comes in, and your sins are forgiven. You are in Christ.
Principle #3: Life Change Is a Gift
You can't change on your own. Sure, you can discipline your life. You can make some progress. But only God can change your life from the inside out. Only God can make you into the mom or dad that your kids never dreamed they could have. Only God can make you love your spouse unconditionally, even if you get nothing in return. That's supernatural power. That's radical change. That's the gift of God!
Principle #4: Life Change Is a Responsibility
But with the gift comes responsibility. Every believer is given a spiritual gift, a supernatural enabling, at the moment of salvation. It's a sacred trust given to you for the purpose of service. It's given to you to fit exactly who you are so that your life and purpose will achieve God's highest glory and bring about the greatest joy in your life.
Principle #5: Life Change Never Happens in Isolation
I don't know why, but God uses the spiritual gifts He gives us to work the gift of supernatural change in others. That's why He chooses to have us live in community together, love each other, and operate out of our giftedness in a way that transformation occurs. The gifts God gives us supply what others need to change into the likeness of Christ.
So if you've already experienced life change, I encourage you today to actively use your spiritual gifts to help others experience the same transformation. And if you're still stuck in the cocoon, I hope you understand that Christ's death and resurrection defeated sin, death, and Satan. Act by faith today. Repent from your old way of thinking, be transformed by the power of God, and discover life outside of the cocoon!
Excerpted from EdgeNotes, the bi-monthly newsletter of Living on the Edge; based on the book Holy Transformation. Used with permission. Copyright 2003 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved.
About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.