I have been really enjoying thinking, reading, and writing about our identity in Christ. To continue with the blogging series, I have another guest blogger who joins us today. Jennifer writes to us all the way from South Africa. To learn more about her, read her bio at the end of this post, or check out her blog here. Today’s topic: How does Knowing God change me?
How does Knowing God change me?
God has a history of changing and reconstructing people’s lives. It’s part of His nature to take weak, sinful human beings, and turn their lives around, transforming them into a better version of themselves.
The Old Testament holds the story of Moses—a murderer who became a leader, and Aaron – who made the golden calf but was later chosen as chief priest.
In the New Testament, Jesus left behind Him a wake of physically and spiritually transformed people, all bearing witness of what He had done for them: The Samaritan woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the thief on the cross, the two madmen at Gennaseret, lepers made whole, blind made to see, dead people raised. The very essence of the gospel is restoration.
Why does knowing God change me?
Someone once gave me an ugly old bookshelf, painted white. I placed little value on it, but one day I eyed it, wondering what lay beneath the white. I scraped away a bit of paint and found multiple layers of paint – green, blue, and yellow. Finally, beneath it all, I found beautiful wood.
Armed with a paint stripper, scraper, and sandpaper, I delegated my kids to clean up the miserable piece of woodwork. After a lot of hard work and a couple of coats of varnish, the transformed bookshelf looked amazing. It now stands proudly in my house, bearing my valuable books.
Why did I clean it up? Because I saw value in it. I saw something beneath all the layers of old paint.
Today it’s an object lesson of what God wants to do for me and you. Total transformation. Restoration. My bookshelf is not a brand new bookshelf, it’s a restored bookshelf. Restored to what its maker intended it to be before someone covered it with ugly paint.
This is what God wants to do for each one of us – restore us to what He intended us to be before sin smothered us in its ugly hues.
But how does He do that?
How does Knowing God change me?
For my bookshelf to be changed it had to submit to being scraped and cleaned. It’s an inanimate object, so it didn’t have a choice. But we have the choice to submit to God or not.
We can choose to allow God to do His work of transformation, or we can resist and stay the same.
While the Bible is full of stories of transformed people, not everyone who came into contact with Christ was changed.
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Why some don’t Change
Some of the people that Jesus encountered did not change. Why is that?
Did God lack the power or the will to transform their lives?
God could only change those who wanted to be changed.
Two of Jesus’ disciples are a perfect example of this: John and Judas.
Both spent 3 years with Jesus. Both walked with Him, learned from Him, and watched Him work with people, but only John changed from being a “son of thunder” to the disciple Jesus loved.
Judas ended up betraying Jesus.
They both had the same environment and opportunities, so why the difference?
They yielded to different things.
John yielded to Jesus, accepting His correction, allowing himself to be changed by Him. He yielded his resentful, ambitious temper to the molding power of Christ and was transformed.
Judas refused to humble his heart, yielding to his own inclinations because Christ’s teachings went against his desires and purposes. He cherished wrong thoughts and feelings until Satan had him in bondage.
Jesus could not override Judas’ choice. God needs our permission before He can transform our lives, but how do we give it?
Surrendering to God
We give God permission to work in us when we surrender ourselves to Him. When we do, we can make an entire change in our lives.
Until you have given up yourself to Him you will not have a real self.C. S. Lewis
But once we surrender ourselves to God, He gives us back our true selves. In fact, “the more God’s we become, the more ourselves we become—the self He had in mind when He thought of you before the creation of the world.” Stasi Eldredge, Becoming Myself, 23
I used to be extremely shy, only talking to strangers if they spoke to me first. I could never initiate a conversation with a stranger. I couldn’t make a phone call, never stood up for myself, cowered when someone came over strongly.
Interestingly enough, I covered up my deep shyness and fear of people by being boisterous and cheeky.
Enter God’s love
How did God’s love change me?
You are loved. Right here in this very moment, you are loved and pursued and seen by the One who sees everything. He knows you better than you know yourself, and you have never been a disappointment to Him.Stasi Eldredge, Becoming Myself, 21
This kind of love has the power to transform. It is the agent of change.
As I knew God more deeply, surrendering my life to Him more fully, He revealed His love for me personally. Not the generic John 3:16 I had memorized since a child, but a personal revelation of my value to Him.
This changed me. (For more on this read What is the Source of Your Value?)
Knowing my value to God empowered me to surrender to Him more.
As I surrendered to Him more and began internalizing my personal worth and value to Him, He set me free of my fear of people.
I began expecting to be treated differently. I could confront someone who had hurt me. I lost my fear of strangers and the focus came off me. I could start a conversation with someone I’d never met before. The shackles of debilitating fear and anxiety fell away.
Sometimes I am tempted to fall back into my old ways but God quickly reminds me to “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1 KJV).
Does being changed by God mean I lose my personality?
Absolutely not. Surrendering to God, being changed by Him, refines our personality.
He makes it shine, bringing to the forefront of our talents and abilities so that He can use them to reach others.
I’m still an introvert. I still am reticent in the company of strangers, but when God moves on my heart to speak to someone I am not held back by the fear that once kept me in bondage. I can now speak in public without feeling nauseous from fear.
Just like I looked at my bookshelf and wanted more from it, so God looks at us and sees more. He receives us as we are, but He wants to change us, set us free from things that have held us in bondage all our lives.
God is love. And in the steady face of His love, we change, becoming more and more like Him..
Knowing and internalizing God’s love for who we are right now, empowers us to surrender ourselves to Him entirely.
When we do this, God gets to work and transforms us into a new creation.
For more on God’s love read How Our Perception of God’s Love Affects our Relationships.
The world tells us we base our identity on our work, our talents, our extracurricular activities, and our background. We often introduce ourselves by sharing our names and what we do for a living. We often change parts of who we are to fit into the world’s mold. But none of those things actually define who we are. We are not our jobs, our culture, or even our relationships. We are made in the image of Christ and are called to do so much more than what we can imagine.
In the comments below, share with us how knowing God Changed you.
Do you want more?
Do you want to read your bible more consistently? Do you want to know how to study the Bible on your own and know how to apply it to your life?
You are a Christian woman who is dedicated to living a life for Christ. You want to read your bible every day, but sometimes you get distracted or are too tired to collect all the resources you need.
It can be hard to figure it out on your own.
That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about The Christian Growth Hub!
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There are so many more features. Click here to learn more about them, and see what The Christian Growth Hub offers.