About 30 years ago, the attention of American six-year-olds was riveted by Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a low-budget, low-quality, cheesy afternoon kids show. It is actually still around, filming new episodes in some form three decades later. As I remember glancing at it in the 90s, it focused on ordinary, normal adolescents who could access power beyond themselves in order to morph themselves into martial arts heroes for justice. During moments of crisis they would cry out, “It’s morphin time!” and be transformed with the ability to do extraordinary things. The term, “morph,” has actually become a part of our culture. It isn’t just six-year-olds who want to morph, to be transformed.
The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart. It’s why people enter therapy, join health clubs, hire personal trainers, join recovery books, cut up credit cards, read self-help books, attend motivational seminars, and make New Year’s resolutions.
μορφόω is a Greek word that describes inner transformation. The word in used in Romans 12:2 is “metamorphosis” which highlights the fact that spiritual growth is a molding, forming process from the inside out. As a creeping caterpillar inside of a cocoon is transformed into a beautiful, soaring butterfly, children of God, undergo change/transformation from the inside out, not very noticeable all at once, but there – growing, changing, becoming more and more Christ-like.
How do we receive this power to morph, to be transformed, to grow spiritually? By the renewing of our minds. Can we get this from an afternoon of baseball, a day out on the lake, six hours of football on Sunday afternoon, a steady diet of current music and movies, or from an evening of reality TV?
No. Only from time with Jesus – worship, Bible study, prayer, remembrance of Baptism, Lord’s Supper, time with Christian friends. It’s a constant process. Confirmation, which many of us went through in our teens, was a one-time thing. Transformation – becoming more non-conforming to the world and more molded in the image of Christ is continual, lifelong. The Holy Spirit works through Word and Sacrament so that we can “test and approve what is the will of God—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” (Romans 12:2b)
Most digital depth-finders show the approximate depth of water and the depth of fish in the area of the boat. The digital picture usually shows fish on the screen swimming in the same direction. I would love – just once – to see a digital fish on that screen turn around and start swimming the other way. That’s what you and I do, by the grace and strength of the Spirit. We take a look at the pattern of the world, realize that’s not what God wants, and go the other way, go against the grain.
We do this with God’s help, relying on the energy and power of the Word of God. We seek proper priorities by seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness. We understand the importance of individuals, how much God values one soul. And, fellow “living sacrifices,” (Romans 12:1) we are non-conformist, against the grain and pattern of the world. Cultivate inner transformation by the renewing of your mind in the Word of Christ.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand