Have you ever watched home improvement shows? I love those that transform homes. My favorite show was TLC’s Trading Spaces. Two couples would each choose a room to which they wanted to give a facelift or maybe use in a new way. Then each couple would swap houses and, with the help of a master interior designer, a carpenter, and their own elbow grease, they would take 48 hours to transform the old room into something new.
This transformation would most definitely require new paint and a new arrangement of the furniture. Often, the interior designer would add new furniture or accent pieces. The team would upgrade lighting fixtures. Some wonderful up-to-date electronics would often complete the remodel.
I loved to watch the change take place in these rooms. They would go from a drab room to a room full of color. They would go from rooms stuffed to the brim to rooms with just the right amount of storage. When the before and after pictures were shown, it was often hard to tell it was even the same room. It’s amazing what paint, a rearrangement of furniture, and a few added accessories can do for a room!
OUR TRANSFORMATION IN BAPTISM
When Paul talks in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of your mind, I think of that show. In our Baptism we are transformed into a new creation and, unlike a remodeling project, that transformation is instantaneous! Jesus has drowned our old self and given us a new self.
Luther thought that Baptism should be part of our daily life. He reminds us that our old self should be drowned daily. In our walk with Jesus we are not asked to do anything to make our salvation more secure. The foundation of our spiritual house is strong in Jesus and cannot be moved. Our salvation is sure. We are asked to be more like Jesus each day, however. We are called to walk with Him and learn from Him. He even calls us to some hard work of change.
When I watched Trading Spaces, I noticed how hard the participants worked. They started out strong and excited for the changes that were going to be made but, as the show continued, they became tired and sometimes frustrated. As they worked day and night, they learned new trades and got dirty. They were in the middle of the work, covered in paint and sawdust. They were often tired and sore.
When God brings to light a change that is needed in my life, I can start out excited and ready to make the change. As time passes, however, and the work becomes hard, I can become tired and frustrated. I can begin to question whether that new feature of patience or forgiveness is necessary. I begin to wonder if that new skill of love and acceptance is worth the work and pain. I can begin to get frustrated with the time and effort it takes. I can be ready to give up when catastrophe strikes.
In the show, the room transformations did not happen overnight. The participants had 48 hours to make the changes that were being asked. The show was also only 60 minutes in length, so much of the work and time spent was not shown. The changes did not happen instantly. They were not as quick as a wiggle of the nose or a twirl of the wand. Transformation was a process.
The transformation of the mind for us as Christians is like that, too. Each day we walk and talk with Jesus, He will transform our mind. He will open our eyes to see Him in new places. He will open our hearts to learn news ways to share Him and to interact with the world He places around us. He will open our ears to hear Him and our hands to serve Him.
Transformation also takes time, work, dedication, and a will to keep trying even when there is failure. On Trading Spaces, the participants almost always encountered some design catastrophe that posed serious problems, and often everyone would be working late into the night in order to finish on time. When the owners walked in for the unveiling of the room, paint or glue might still be drying. Yet the hard work was put in and the result was usually enjoyed by all.
I know I sometimes question the design plan that Jesus is laying out in front of me. I question the artistic choices. Are you sure you want me to be like that? Are you sure you want me to look that way? In the show, the participants could question, and the designer still had the final say in the product. The designer and the carpenter knew the big picture. Jesus is in control of the changes being made within me and you.
NOT FOR MYSELF
Finally, the transformation of the rooms in the show was not for the benefit of the people doing the work. The participants were not working on the renovation of their own houses. They were putting in all that hard work and elbow grease for their friends and neighbors. Similarly, Jesus does not need me to be a better mom, pastor’s wife, neighbor, or coworker for Himself. I also don’t need to be a better me in order to be loved more by Him. Instead, the benefit of this renovation project is the people around me.
I am sure that my husband and children will be thankful when I am a little more patient with them. My coworkers will notice the difference when I am a little more forgiving the next time something doesn’t go the way I thought it should. My neighbors will be grateful for the transformation as I learn to engage and love the different cultures which surrounds me. My hard work and transformation is not for myself or for my salvation. The transformation of my mind is for those around me, so that they may see Jesus’ love reflected in my life.
What is the Designer looking to transform within you right now? Is He looking to shine light on a dark spot? Are there some old habits that simply need to go in order to make room for some new ones? Maybe Jesus is asking you to sand a rough spot in your personality. Whatever the change, the Designer has a perfect plan, and the result is going to be amazing!
The wonderful news is that, even when I don’t like the plan, and I decide to put things back my way, that does not affect the foundation. By God’s grace, my foundation is secure. My salvation is sure in Jesus. He is inviting me, nonetheless, to be actively engaged in the transformation of my mind to benefit those around me, to His glory. The work may not be easy or quick, but the Designer is with me in the midst of the hard work and will never leave. He has the perfect plan, and I can’t wait to be part of it!
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