Conformity Counterfeits Transformation©

Back in the days of my youth I played on a softball team.  My dad loved sports and I wanted to capture his attention so I joined my sister’s team.  She was a natural at the game.   I was not.  The truth is I hated playing.  As the right fielder I was scared that a fly ball would come and hit me right between the eyes.  I determined if one came my way I would let it fall to the ground, run up to grab it, and throw it to the closest player. The problem is I couldn’t throw worth a flip.   My softball career didn’t last very long.

I had conformed to what I thought would get me what I wanted most; the praises my sister was receiving and my father’s attention.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2:

If you are a woman and have been in a church setting for any period of time you will know the reference well;  the Proverbs 31 woman.  She was the model for women.   A quick search on the internet will show you that she is the who many aspire to be like.  Because of her selfless life she was held in high esteem in the church community.   I don’t think there could have been a more perfect woman.

I tried to be like her.  It became yet another area in life to conform.  On occasion someone would say those magic words of affirmation, “Julie is a Proverbs 31 woman.”   In that moment it was declared that in my messy life I was somehow doing something right.  It all was so very wrong.

This past week as I prepared notes for the women’s coffee group, these words unearthed something in me.  “Conformity is a counterfeit version of true transformation.”  Years before I would not have considered those words as truth.  Today I know they are.

I tried to conform to the attributes of this woman in Proverbs.   I tried to conform to the characteristics of what I was told was godly and holy.  Something very important was left out, the life of Christ fused into my very being as the source.

He was acknowledged as giving me new life and being the source of life all while telling me what I needed to do to be better at _______.  It’s just not right.  Anytime it’s about me becoming better or living out a pattern then it no longer is about Him.  Paul understood that.  He tried to tell me.

As I read the verse above, with the lens of the position I was resurrected into, I find clarity into what Paul was trying to say.   It’s been there all the time had I looked at the context of the letter he wrote to the Romans.  Instead a verse was grabbed out and a challenge was given.

My husband and I were long distance daters.  We relied heavily on the communication in letters as back in that day that was all we had.  If I had taken one of his letters and skipped through and pulled out certain paragraphs much of what he was trying to say would be missed.  The context of what is being said changes everything.

To understand what Paul is telling us in Romans 12:2 I have to look at what he was saying at the end of Romans 11: “For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things.”

It all makes sense to me as I see what has transpired in my life.  Paul told the Romans, and me, not to aspire to the models in front of us but instead to be changed by the new mindset of what has happened.  Christ came into my life to be interwoven into me as the embodiment of life to be offered out.  I simply live in what has happened.  I don’t offer out of a list or regime or pattern.  I offer out of the mind of Christ that loves the world completely.

I am positionally Jesus in Julie.  All things pertaining to my life are from Him and through Him and to Him.

He is the source of all that is to be done.  There is no mentoring to live out or a life of characteristics to be realized.  It is simply and only believing, accepting and living from the position He has placed me in.  He is the blood in my veins, the wind in my sails, the way the truth and the life in me.

That is transformation.

The will of God is in me, it is proven, acceptable and perfect.  It is Jesus and we are fused together as one.

When I hung up my softball glove and stopped conforming to my sister’s life I discovered what I love.  I love to cook.  I started cooking. I simply lived in what was already inside me.

So it is with this fusion of Christ in me.  I live in the reality of what He has done in me.  For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things.

 ©copyrighted 2017 Julie L. Todd

The Simple Gospel©

In my previous job there were days that I would start my trek down the mountain just as the sun was rising.  There is one spot where a particular precipice gives way to the most amazing panoramic views.  Two thousand feet above the city, the open skies give the naked eye the ability to see for miles as the expanse of heaven lights up with the vibrant colors of dawn.   As light permeates the darkness, the world below awakens to the reality of a fresh new day.  There’s something inspiring about watching dawn arrive. 

It’s how I would describe the path my life has taken these last few years.  New days are dawning and life with God is becoming simpler than I’ve ever known it to be.

I remember the day I accepted the invitation to give my life to Christ. I was desperate and alone, searching to be loved.  I didn’t have a clue that in essence I was dying to life on my own and accepting His life as mine. I was put into a discipleship program where I would be taught how to be a Christian. Little did I know it would be my demise as it would lead me down a path of old covenant living in a new covenant relationship.  The emphasis would be on me and what I must do.

There were always steps listed at the end of the message telling me what I could do to make things better for myself and for God.  As soon as I finished one regime there was another waiting in the wings.

One speaker would take you to dealing with your wounds while another would tell you how to make sure you had no idols. I was exhorted to make sure all sins were confessed, not missing one.  I was encouraged to have my quiet time daily, praying my prayer list faithfully.  I had to search my heart constantly to make sure all offenders were forgiven.  I was told to hunt for vows and roots.  Mandates were given constantly encouraging me to rise up and do something.  Being a child of God became overwhelming and quite frankly, exhausting.

Christianity became complex.  I realized that if someone asked me how I had gotten to where I was in my relationship what I would tell them would shut them down. The sheer process with its lists would overwhelm them.

Something was desperately wrong .  If Christ had finished everything why was there still so much to do?  The messages were mixed and perplexing.  There was nothing simple about this gospel I had accepted as my own.

I began asking questions in an open dialogue with God.  How could this be so confusing and draining?  Jesus said His burden was easy and His yoke was light.  Over these last few years He has awakened me to the ease of His yoke,  Jesus + nothing = everything.

As I drove the car home from my daughter’s house this week God and I chatted a little more about the simplicity of it all.   He reminded me of the story of John the Baptist.  John’s words were straightforward.  “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near”.  It struck me afresh as He awakened me to see something I’d never seen in the story.   The word repent means to change the way you think.    John told the people to change the way they were thinking while pointing to Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.  Let me explain the significance of this to me.

In John’s time there was a covenant in place in which it was up to the individual.  When you read through the books of Leviticus you become aware of what the expectation was.  Life was about the individual and what they would attempt to do to meet the requirements of the law.   But change was on the horizon.  The resurrection opened a new covenant where I would die to the life that was about me and be made alive to the reality of Christ efforts in and through me.  

In 2 Corinthians 3 it speaks of the veil that lies over the hearts of man, removed only by Christ.  It also speaks of us not being adequate in ourselves to consider anything coming from ourselves.  Our adequacy comes from God.

I have read the words in Hebrews 4; on multiple occasions yet now they make sense to me. “For the one who enters God’s rest also rested from his works”. “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” 

This is the simple gospel.  It’s not a life where I look within to myself it’s a life where I look within to Christ.   He is fused into my being and now we live together.  What is He putting on my heart?  What is He putting on my mind through this fusion and oneness with Him.  What is He inspiring in this moment.  I don’t make Him my life, He is my life. It’s not a discipline or a sacrifice.  It’s a being, an abiding.  I don’t imitate Him I allow Him to be lived through me.    It’s a mindset not a to do list.

As I dwell in the reality of Christ’s life lived through me the mandates are fulfilled. Obedience isn’t an issue, nor is forgiveness, they are a result.  The focus of what I must do drops away as I embrace what He now does, each and every day, through me.

“The life of a Christian is the life of Christ within us through the Holy Spirit. It is not a life similar to his, it is his life.” J. E. Conant

@copyrighted: 2017 Julie L. Todd