By Brock Bondurant
2 Corinthians 3:18 – … For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
I left the most important piece of that verse out last week: the who behind the transformation. Sure, a butterfly springs forth from what was a caterpillar, but who implanted that into its DNA? How does a caterpillar magically turn itself into a butterfly? Well, I don’t think the caterpillar has much choice, other than saying “yes” to the cocoon. Because I’ve heard that not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The gift of wings only comes to those who accept the fact that they were made for more. That is our role in transformation; simply to accept and receive, willingly entering the portal of change.
Just like everything else in this world, transformation begins with the Lord. Only by the stirring in our hearts from the Spirit are we provoked to live intentionally. We cannot initiate the change or desire to do so on our own. We can only respond to the gift of Jesus with surrender out of love.
A rule of life is great, even vital for transformation into all that God offers us here, now, and eternally. But we don’t develop a rule of life for the sake of having a rule of life. The Pharisees did that and Jesus said “their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8). In other words, life doesn’t come from the trellis; life comes from the vine. The trellis is only there to support the plant for health, growth, and flourishing. A rule of life is developed to help us remain in the vine that is Jesus, where life is.
What is this life Jesus offers? A life of freedom. Freedom from death, sin, anxiety, comparison, performance, possessions – all the things dragging us down in this world. Those in Christ have been saved! There is nothing we can do to earn his love. It is a gift of grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:8-10
We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone. It’s all about him. Even our personal transformation: it comes from him, through him and to him.
We receive eternal life from Jesus, not from our own doing. What is this eternal life?
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. – John 17-3
Life begins with Jesus. He displayed his great love for us by dying a brutal death on a cross, resurrecting to new life that he now extends freely to those who will receive it. We don’t pursue becoming like Jesus to earn his love and right-standing. He loves us freely. We don’t even work towards spiritual transformation for the sake of becoming better people. We live out spiritual transformation through practices like a rule of life to structure our lives in a way that keeps us in the presence of Jesus. He is the point.
For practice this week, return to your place of silence and solitude. Get quiet, take a breath, invite the Spirit to join you, and listen. What might the Spirit be stirring in your heart? Is there a step you could take to abide in the vine? Is there something you need to confess or let go of? Someone to forgive? Have you received this gift of eternal life from Jesus?
Jesus takes you as you are. He’s not in love with some future version of you. He wants you to experience true life today. He invites you into more of him. So whether you’re a longtime follower of Jesus, new to the way, or you’ve yet to accept his gift, he has so much more for you.
May the Spirit stir in your hearts that which will draw you nearer to Jesus and more life.