The necessity of transformation is a very clear bible teaching, something I have preached on numerous times over the years. The text often used, and rightly so, is Romans 12:1-2. I suspect that many of you can come close to quoting the text, especially v2 which says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The ETRV translation reads in part, “Then you will be able to decide and accept what God wants for you.” What does God want from His disciples as they seek transformation?
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Romans 12:4-5
It is interesting that what follows the exhortation of personal transformation is the teaching about body life. Why? It is because God’s transformation of me is intended to benefit us, the body of Christ. I am part of a whole! So often when we go to the scriptures concerning the “body of Christ,” our focus is the uniqueness of us from the rest of the religious world. We talk of how Jesus built the one church (Matthew 16:18), which is one body (Ephesians 4:4), of which Jesus is the head (Colossians 1:18), to this day. Although true, these verses are not intended solely for us to use to look outward; but also, to look inward, at what God has created . . . ONE BODY! I am part of we, which means, it no longer about me, but us.
Although we are . . . well . . . we, there is still need to learn about me as part of we. (Confused yet?) As I embrace God’s transformative work in my life, grasping that life is not merely about me, but also includes we, I come to learn of my role within the body. With humility, we come to understand that “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) that results in us not “having the same function.” (Romans 12:4) These functions or “gifts” as they are called in v6, differ “according to the grace that is given to us.” God has given us these gifts to be used! Notice the list of gifts mentioned: prophecy, ministry (serving, NIV), teaching, exhorting, liberality, leading and mercy. Did you notice it? These words seek to meet the needs of others. God wants me to be a functioning part of the whole.
This coming year the shepherds are committing themselves to helping us understand, with greater clarity, what our gifts may be and how they can best be used to help promote mutual growth. The only thing we ask of you is the same thing God asks of us all, to embrace His transformative work in our personal lives, so His church can grow. I am part of a whole, as are you.