By Rev. Michael Goldsmith
Let’s go back to 1964. The “epic” movie of that year was My Fair Lady starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. My Fair Lady received 12 Oscar nominations and took home 8 of the 12. The story is that of Professor Henry Higgins who, on a bet, decides to take a flower-selling, street dwelling, cockney accented girl named Liza Doolittle and transform her into a lady of beauty and elegance. He teaches her how to walk, talk, dress, and act. She learns how to carry herself as a lady, to enter a room with grace and poise, the value of etiquette and composure, and an incredible transformation takes place on the big screen. The street clothes are changed into beautiful gowns. The barely understandable accent is raised to a comfortable and soothing level of verbal communication. The lifestyle of survival is altered into a lifestyle portraying real elegance. It’s a great movie.
But now, travel with me, thousands of years into the past to another great transformation. It’s the transformation of you and I into the people of God. Ephesians 2 records the event. “Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin… All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature… But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead…. For He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms, all because we are one with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:1-6, New Living Translation). Think of that. God looked down on us, the street people of the world, living in a pool of sin, surviving life by selfish means, talking the language and expressing the behavior of this world, and He lifted us up (by our calling on Jesus), and transformed our life into something better. That kind of real life transformation is far greater than a movie version.
Yet, we find ourselves often drifting from the transformed life back to “the way it used to be”. Romans 12:2 compels us to not “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Those are highly intriguing words – “conformed” and “transformed”. The word conformed also carries the idea of being squeezed or pushed into a mold. We are not to “be squeezed or pushed into the mold of this world”. The world system is always attempting to squeeze us back into what we came out of. But don’t do it. Resist it. Refuse to return back to the streets of sin, the life of survival, the behavior of selfishness. But be transformed. That word means to change or create. We derive our English word metamorphosis from it. A metamorphosis is a permanent change. A caterpillar is transformed through metamorphosis into a butterfly. And so a tadpole changes into a frog. They are not the same old creature. They are new creatures, with new patterns of behavior, a new lifestyle, a better and different way of living.
If you are truly “metamorphosized” (it should be a word) by God’s Spirit, then it becomes impossible to squeeze you back into what you were. It’s just as impossible as it is to squeeze the butterfly back into a cocoon and demand a caterpillar. The butterfly cannot and will not go back. It’s found life and “life more abundantly”.
That’s where the parallel between our life as Christians and Liza Doolittle ends and the contrast begins. In the movie, Professor Higgins can’t stop treating Liza as more than the street girl that he found even though she is now different. For us, God has no problem accepting the change that He offers. It’s us – just a new and improved version. We are the ones that run away from Him and back to our old living. He is the one who pursues us to convince us that we do not belong in that kind of life any longer.
So, like the butterfly, don’t return from where you came but keep your eye on God, focusing on the future, progressing toward His better way of life for you.
Rev. Michael Goldsmith serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.