By Kimberly Davidson
We've all asked, "What am I here on earth for?" "What is the meaning of life?"
Ring…ring…ring. Answer your phone. Wow! It’s God! “God called me!”
Is that what Christians mean when they say, “I’ve been called by God” or “I’m seeking my calling…”? Obviously God Almighty doesn’t call us tangibly on our phone. This is a popular phrase in our community. So, what does it mean? First Corinthians 12:7 says, “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is” (MSG). God desires we leave our mark on the world. Our greatest “call” is to love God and be Christlike to every person we come in contact with (see Matthew 22:36-39).
How does this “calling” process happen? Since I’m not a prophetess all I can say is it is different and exclusive for each person because every person is created different and unique. What I can tell you from my experience as a spiritual development coach and biblical counselor is once we accept the call to be a Christian the transformation process begins.
We are told throughout our lives that we are a product of our past, which is true. Our biological makeup and distinct personalities come from our ancestral line. Our thinking processes, our behaviors, every flaw, what we like and don't like, is a result of our upbringing and social environment. Therefore, you can say what we are today is the result of a previous condition. Yet, when we become a Christian Jesus tells us our thinking must be renewed and our behavior based on becoming more like him. Salvation is just the beginning. It must be followed by spiritual growth.
Our goal as a believer in Jesus Christ is to be conformed to his likeness. We are products of God's kingdom today and not our past. Every believer has the ability to live with joy, passion and purpose. God said, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I like The Message paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” We have a choice to either live with the attitude, I’ve got so much baggage from my past. I’ll never be able to live just like Christ. To imitate Christ is impossible. Or, I’ve had some bad breaks, but Jesus is living in me now. He’s working with me to get rid of that old garbage and I choose to see myself as a new creation—just with some rough edges.
Authentic transformation (called “sanctification”) requires a long-term commitment, a solid partnership with God, the willingness to grow through pain and hardship, and the willingness to live a countercultural life. Sanctify means to make holy or set apart; to conform to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:10).
As we are slowly transformed into the image of Christ the domain of the old self shrinks. The other awesome thing that happens is as our behavior changes, our brain chemistry changes for the better. Science is now proving what the Bible has said all along. God designed us with the ability to change our own brains. We actually can “rewire” our brain which means we can change our thinking. This is called plasticity or neuroplasticity. It refers to the actual rewiring of the structure of the brain for a new type of use through developmental and damage repair.
Our minds and hearts are to be changed in such a way that the old negative values, beliefs and practices of the old life, the old mindset and old thinking patterns are rewired. This is a learned behavior. It is a discipline. Any one of us can cultivate it. As we become more self-aware of ourselves we can see the value in paying attention to our stronger and potentially toxic emotions such as anger, fear, pain, grief, shame, and guilt; rather than pushing them aside and repressing them, we should become more familiar with them. We can do this through activities such as journaling and praying with God, or talking to others about our with the purpose of releasing them to God.
Jesus defined the destination of the journey when he taught his followers that the most important exhortations from God were to love God and his people with all of their heart, mind, strength, and soul (Mark 12:30-31). Sanctification is the process that enables us to gradually die to sin, self, and society in order to fully and profoundly love God and other people. Paul, a classic example of a transformed person, said that the only thing that matters is being transformed by God into a new creation: “It doesn’t make any difference now whether we have been circumcised or not [a Jewish custom]; what counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people (Galatians 6:15, TLB).
Every believer has been set apart by the blood of Christ to experience a unique freedom and a new identity through the power of his blood, and the enduring guidance of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:1). The Bible says: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29). The truth is: You are a person of destiny! Psalm 139:16 (TLB): “You [God] saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” Our part is to fully submit to God and consistently pursue his will.
We have each been predestined and called by God to live in freedom and grow into his likeness which means our thoughts and beliefs must conform to the mind of Christ. Ask yourself,
- Do I have an attitude of willingness to expose and examine what is hurting me—spiritually, physically, emotionally and relationally?
- Am I willing to look at the things that are hindering me from my destiny?
Pray as David did, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:8-10).
We each must be an empty vessel before we can be filled. Slow down. Come into God’s presence. Allow God to begin to clean out all the yucky cobwebs of your heart and mind. Allow his grace to fill you up.