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 (NIV)
Transformers is a multibillion-dollar franchise of toys, comic books, video games, and movies. The premise is that two alien robot factions at war can transform into other forms, such as vehicles and animals, and then back again to their original state.
As Christ-followers, we are to be transformed, not into vehicles or animals, but into the image of Christ. It is not instantaneous but an ongoing process. It is not the result of our efforts. It “comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Unlike the toys, we are not intended to change back and forth, but we are “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” The questions before us include how vital this transformation is and what it looks like in a believer’s life. As pastors and leaders, do we really expect to see a change in people’s lives? Or are we content that they have made a profession of faith, and somehow everything will get sorted out in eternity?
Our English word “transformed” comes from the Greek word metamorphoō. It means to change into another form. Webster’s dictionary defines metamorphosis as “change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means,” or “a striking alteration in appearance, character or circumstances.”
Spiritual transformation goes beyond the superficial. When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, it experiences a liberty and freedom previously unknown. Transformation is not easy. It is a venture from the familiar into uncertainty. In Prayer and Worship, Cheryl Taylor makes this observation:
As we grow in godliness, we shed our enslavement to human sinful tendencies and attain new freedom in Christ. We are freed from the responsibility of producing in our own strength because we realize it is God who does the work in our lives. Such freedom is exhilarating and results in joy. With the proper goal, disciplines become a delight, not drudgery. Maybe they would more appropriately be called spiritual delights than spiritual disciplines. Discipline with direction results in the joy of a spiritually disciplined life. 
The true gospel message insists on transformation. God receives us as we are, but he loves us enough to change us. This is the wonderful message that is being spread everywhere, powerfully changing hearts throughout the earth, just like it has changed you! Every believer of this good news bears the fruit of eternal life as they experience the reality of God’s grace. Colossians 1:6 (TPT)
Throw off the Old, Put on the New
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:21–24 (NLT)
The idea of putting fresh, clean clothes on over old filthy ones seems absurd and, most likely, ill-fitting. In the same way, we cannot expect to receive the full benefit of a new life in Christ without first “throwing off” our old sinful nature and our former way of life.
Salvation is so much more than escaping hell and going to heaven. Transformation is a supernatural work of God, but it is up to us to repent in preparation for God’s renewal in our lives. The idea that we have no role to play in our transformation is simply inaccurate. Paul went on to say: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)
Spiritual transformation does not occur without opposition. The world, Satan, and especially our own fleshly desires conspire against us. We will be successful if we can look beyond the present and have our eyes fixed on the goal, that is, on Jesus. Discipline is not enjoyable, but the resulting character and spiritual development make it worthwhile.
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10 (NLT)
To Be like Jesus
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (CSB)
Although it may be desirable to be transformed without deliberate intention on our part, it just doesn’t happen that way. Paul admonished Timothy: train yourself to be godly 1 Timothy 4:7 (NIV). Again, from Cheryl Taylor:
As we strive for spiritual transformation through the practice of the disciplines, our lives will increasingly operate in the dominion of the Spirit, reflecting godly character and perspective. As we are faithful, God, through His Spirit, is determined to pursue this good work in us to the end. Discipline builds habits; habits build character; and character builds destiny.
The catalyst for our transformation is found in our desire. The words of a hymn come to mind:
To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus!
My desire - to be like Him!
All thru life’s journey from earth to glory,
My desire - to be like Him.
In addition to the need for intentionality, we must be aware of the urgency of transformation: This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Romans 13:11–12 (NLT)
Photo by Steve Ekeroth