Hello my name is… Passive Transformation

February 7, 2021   /   Jesus Church

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Hello my name is…

(Part 5)

Good Morning Jesus Church… Online as well

This is part 5 – Talking about Identity/Calling

  • All of this is part of our journey to become more like Jesus
    • And we know that happens thru Spiritual formation (odd word)
    • And that can be hard… painful even at times
    • But u find the most success/fulfillment by engaging this journey
  • The last two weeks – we talked about calling (Inward & Outward)
    • Inward: Starts by dealing with our “shadow side” or flesh
      • Realizing there are obstacles holding us back from the path
      • And dealing with those are the beginning of inner healing
      • Which allows us to walk into our calling from God
    • Outward: Which is realizing that we get to partner w/ God
      • That like Adam… we are made alive in & thru his presence
      • And our job is to bring life to every environment we enter
      • And in working for God’s glory… whatever that looks like
        • We express an aspect of who HE IS
        • And uncover more of who WE ARE
  • There’s a ton more there… if you missed last 2 weeks
    • Get online later today and listen to the rest
    • App – Jesuschurch.life – Facebook – Youtube


Today we are going to start with a “Phrase”

Be true to yourself… Good advice? Bad advice?

  • We hear this all the time
    • In a celebrity interview in the west hills of LA…
      • “What advice do you have for all of your fans”
      • “Just be true to yourself”
    • In the self-help audio book u listen to on the way to work
      • Tips and advice on how to live… tip number 3
      • “Just be true to yourself”
    • In the Oprah-esque talk show interview
      • Thinking of a marriage/divorce/identity crisis/sex change
      • “Just be true to yourself” (Pan audience… head nods)
  • This is more than a cliché in our culture… it is a mantra

But as a follower of Jesus I have mixed feelings about it…

  • On one hand – I love it
    • It’s right in line the idea of discovering ur identity & calling
      • Go on that journey of self-discovery
      • Figure out who u are… who u aren’t… what ur made to do
      • And then just BE YOURSELF
  • On the other hand – I hate it
    • First off… follow up question: Which self… b/c I’m a mixed bag
      • On one hand I want to eat well and feel good about myself
      • On the other hand I want Cherry’s Garcia & In N Out
    • Which me is the real me…
      • Part of me wants to get up early to read my Bible & Pray
      • Other part wants to sleep in and then look at my phone

Many phycologists today believe we all have more than one “SELF”

Dr. David Benner

What we call “I” is really a family of many part-selves

Richard Foster

Within all of us is a whole conglomerate of selves

  • What they mean… under the surface of what we project to world
    • We are all at least a little bit confused
    • B/C we have desire – But more than one set of desires
  • And some desires are directed on the path of what is good/true
    • Others (seem as real) follow a path of broken/wrong direction
  • So we live in the tension of inner conflict… which isn’t new
    • It’s as old as the human condition

Turn to Eph. 4 (2k years old – so good we still read it)

Used it a couple weeks ago for Theology of Identity

  • But it is also about calling… Lets start in verse 1

Eph. 4:1-3

  • Notice that he says a whole lot more about character than career
    • Which tells us calling has such a emphasis on our inner journey
    • Skip down to verse 11

Eph. 4:11-16

  • How amazing is that language…
    • I love his vision for ur life – To grow/mature in fullness of Christ
    • And his point is: He is talking about your character
    • Not just your career… this is what calling is all about

Eph. 4:17-18

Eph. 4:20-24

Notice that for Paul… you have an “OLD SELF” and “NEW SELF”

  • And the CALL is to put off the OLD SELF… put on the NEW SELF
    • And he uses the imagery of clothes (Think of Mr. Rodgers)
    • The invite is 2 put off an old item of clothing… put on a new one
    • Its just a word picture (put off/put on)
  • You put off an old identity… put on a new identity
    • Put off an old way of life… put on whole new way to be human
    • That is the calling that is set before each one of us

And for a month now… saying a main key to apprenticeship w/ Jesus

  • Is to discover our identity & calling but tough part is this…
    • It’s one thing to discover your identity & calling
    • It’s a whole different thing to grow into person u see on horizon
  • Its one thing to hear: Ur identity is rooted in who you are in Christ
    • Yes!!! That sounds so great and I’ll get a room of “AMENS”
  • It’s another thing to change… b/c u aren’t that person yet
    • To God you are
    • But not to the rest of us

So question over next 2 weeks is HOW… do we change/grow/mature

  • Now what we mean by “CHANGE” is Spiritual Formation
    • And in the Bible the word used for that is “TRANSFORMATION”
    • Meta-morphato (GK) – Where we get metamorphosis
      • Which is how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly

Our definition of Spiritual Formation

The lifelong process by which we are transformed into becoming more like Jesus, and in doing so, become our real, true self.

Dallas Willard

Spiritual formation in the Christian tradition is a process of increasingly being possessed and permeated by the character traits (of Jesus) as we walk in the easy yoke of discipleship with Jesus our teacher.

Gal. 4:19

  • And that is our heart and desire in this series… any series
    • We are passionately awaiting… longing… praying to see
    • Christ formed in you
  • So for next 2 weeks we are gonna dig in deep 2 Spiritual Formation
    • Reason is b/c our mission and goal for each of us here at JC
    • Its that you would be
      • With Jesus
      • Become like Jesus
      • And do what he did
  • And whether you are with us until the Lord returns
    • Or if you live in Phoenix for a year and then can’t stand the heat
    • Or you graduate and start your life somewhere else
      • We hope/pray u are transformed by Jesus & following him
      • In his family that we call the church

2 things to understand in what it means to be transformed by Jesus

The first: Passive Transformation

This is how u are formed with little to no effort on your part

And before we start… one thing we have to wrap our brains around

Spiritual formation isn’t a “Christian” thing… it’s a HUMAN thing.

  • There is a Xian version of it (Jesus Version) that we think is best
    • But it’s a human thing
    • One doctor related humans to sharks… never stop moving
    • Like that… we never stop moving/becoming something
  • Meaning every day u are being formed (all disciples of something)
    • Question isn’t “ARE YOU” a disciple
    • Question is “WHAT ARE YOU” a disciple of
  • Is it Jesus of Nazareth… or someone/something else
    • What are u being formed into… who are you becoming
    • If u remember nothing else – Remember that (but more too)

TAG: So Passive transformation… how are we formed

1: We are all formed by the stories we believe

See this all over the Bible… but lets just stick with Eph. 4

Eph 4:17-18

  • What it means by futility of their thinking… more than thought life
    • It’s the idea of your “WORLD VIEW”
  • Life is complex – we’re wired 2 take complexity > make sense of it
    • To take all the chaos/news/social media/life experience
    • And put it all together into a story that fits in our world
    • And then we live out the script of that story
  • And we take the NARRATIVE we create… it gives shape to our lives
    • Think of beauty or acceptance or sexuality
    • Think of success…

UR told success is measured by profitability… independence… power

  • We live in a “king of the hill” world… survival of the fittest
    • And the less accountability ur subject to… more successful u are
    • The more money you have… the greater ur success
    • The more people dependent on you.. the more you’ve made it
  • And any idea outside of that… seen as people who arent successful
    • And its just so they can feel good about themselves
    • But idea of putting others 1st… great story to read… not live
  • So that’s a story (Not objective truth)…
    • It’s a reading of world around us of what it means to be human
      • What it means to find fulfillment
      • What it means to understand “greatest good”
    • But there are other stories that contrast that story
      • And society will claim this is the true story
      • Just like society will claim their story on sexuality is true
        • Marriage is social construct
        • Gender labeling is oppressive
        • Monogamy is unnatural… we’re animals anyways

But Jesus tells a very different story… lets go back to success

  • Success: King of the hill is the lowest position 2 ultimate authority
    • That stepping on others to get ahead will always put u behind
    • Survival of the fittest is the destruction of life & ultimate good
    • And our goal should not be to answer to no one
      • But to in humility seek out accountability/transparency
  • Sexuality: Marriage given by God… why its in every culture in world
    • Gender given by God – Not oppressive… empowering if u let it
    • We are not animals… given rule over animals… u r God’s image
    • This isn’t a lower view – It’s a significantly higher view

That’s a story… it’s a reading of the world around us – Forms worldview

  • Question you have to answer: Which story do you believe
    • Will you believe the story of Jesus… or that of our culture
    • Here is another story – More money equals more happiness

TAG: And the story you believe will give shape to who you will become

2: We are formed by our habits

Eph 4:20 (ESV)

But that is not the way you learned Christ!

What he’s getting at: Your way of life (habits) do something to ur heart

  • Tons of work on the power of habits and how they shape us
    • Studies show – We are made up mostly of daily habits
    • What we do on a regular basis is what we become
      • The things that we do… they do something to us
  • Reason: Our habits get to core of being… not thru our mind > heart
    • And we are pushed down a pathway of emotional desire
    • Which lead us to habits that shape our loves and our longings

Metaphor – These are maybe worst chips in the world 2 eat (Tim’s)

  • Tim’s Cascade Jalapeno – Growing up my friends dad bought them
    • And they are pretty hot… and I’m sorta a wimp for hot stuff
      • To point where I would get a bowl of ice cream & my chips
      • Eat an entire bag in one sitting
    • But for a long time you could only get them in NW or by mail
      • Now I found that they are here… AJ’s and sometimes Frys
      • And I love them so much – But they are terrible for me
      • They give me heart burn… hurt my stomach… feel terrible
    • And when I don’t eat them… I don’t pay the consequences
      • But what do you think I was eating yesterday…
      • The other bag because I didn’t want to open this one
  • And I know these chips are terrible for me… why do I still eat them
    • B/C I love them… my heart is bent in direction of these chips
      • And for many of u – Say same thing about phone/coffee
      • You’re high strung… can’t sleep… I know lets have caffeine
    • And 1st time I tried chips – burnt my mouth of… nothing helped
      • But little by little I started to crave them
      • To point where if I eat ice cream… I think about these chips
      • Or pickles but that’s another story for another time
    • So I came to love these chips through the habit of eating them

Don’t need phycologist to see: More u do something… more u desire it

  • Often the more you eat dessert after dinner… more you crave it
    • More u binge watch Netflix… more u want to watch Netflix
    • More u exercise… somehow that one doesn’t work… so lame
    • More u come to church… more u want to come to church
  • Point: The things u do get into your heart – Form ur loves/longings
    • Because we think we’re just watching something we shouldn’t
    • Actually we are doing something to our heart
  • For some things… that might be really bad news…
    • But for our apprenticeship with Jesus – this is great news b/c…
      • In following the way of Jesus (his habits)
      • We can point our heart in right direction
      • Once u realize that what u know in ur head
      • Is nothing compared to what u love in your heart
  • And thru habit… u can point heart in direction of Jesus (next week)

TAG: Today what to remember – formed by stories we believe & habits

3: We are formed by our relationships

Eph. 4:17 (notice its all in the plural – Not singular)

Paul says something we all know – Become like those we hang out with

  • That can be your fiends… your family…
    • For most family is greatest influence on who u do/not become
      • Great news for some
      • Mixed news for most
      • Terrifying for a few
    • Also the culture you are born into
      • Realize it or not… ur formed by western… secular culture
      • It is what you digest every single day of ur life
    • Or it’s your friends… your work collogues
      • Odds are that u and friends think in similar way
      • You dress in a similar way
      • Have very common interests and though patterns
  • Because we become like the people we spend time with regularly
    • And that’s a great thing or terrible thing depending on who
    • I’ll let you figure that one out

4: And all this happens in an environment

Eph. 4:19

Now… of course we don’t live in 1st century – So why is that highlighted

  • 2 things to know about Ephesus – City this letter is written to
    • 1: Home to Aphrodite’s temple (one of 7 wonders of world)
      • She was goddess of sexuality & fertility
      • Worship in temple by sleeping w/ temple priest/priestess
      • And Aphrodite would bless you for that
    • 2: Because this was famous – People traveled from all over
      • Which made their city very wealth
      • Eventually a financial center of all of Rome… like NY City
  • Think of one story of Ephesus in Acts 19… Paul plants this church
    • There is a move of God in the city
    • So many people start following Jesus – Riot breaks out
    • B/C temple was the city center for majority of commerce
      • No one was going to temple… buying sacrifices… idols
      • Jesus literally crashed the local economy
  • So what would be the 2 prevalent sin in Ephesus: Greed/Sexuality
    • What does Paul call out the church in Ephesus for
    • Greed/Sexuality… and that isn’t a coincidence
    • Ephesus was forming/influencing those in its environment

Every city has a distinct mold it wants you to become

  • In Portland… Recycle – Hike – Bike – Don’t assimilate (good)
    • But it also wants you to be things (bad)
    • Every city is like that.. Look at NY – Denver – Phoenix
  • There is good and bad transformation happening all the time
    • Danger is: The longer we live in our city… more u become like it
    • Not only in the good ways… also the bad
  • Meaning: We become like our environment (that is 2 places now)
    • And we need to carefully discern in community
    • In what ways has my city/phone got into my head
    • Made me into somebody I’m not
      • Has it put lies in my head that I have began to believe
      • Where those lies have now become my truth

5: We are shaped by our experiences

Good and bad experiences

  • Divorce… marriage… singleness… babies… can’t have a baby
  • Your success story… your unmet expecations… disappointment

TAG: Whatever ur life autobiography is… you are shaped by experiences

Point tonight – All this together forms you

Stories u believe – habits – relationships – environment – experiences

  • All of it… all u have 2 do tomorrow is wake up – It’s happening now
    • There doesn’t need to be a plan/notes/agenda
      • It’s just what you regularly do
      • Just wake up and you are becoming somebody
      • The question is who/what are you becoming

Our apprenticeship to Jesus has to offset all of that

  • So question is if that’s all true… how do we become more like Jesus
    • Leads to how do we become more our true self (next week)
    • Hint… it’s not how most people think
      • Not just read Bible more… come to church more.. try hard
      • All three of those are great things… have to wait
  • And to end here is the question – And this is safe place (grace)
    • God’s first attribute towards you is actually compassion
    • There is no condemnation here… just hope
    • If u plot out ur character 10/20 years… who do u see on horizon
    • 20 > 40 / 40 > 60 / 18 >18.5 – As far as most of them can see

Who do u see yourself becoming…

  • Is it thru Jesus… or something else
    • And no guilt or shame – this is part of the journey
    • But we have to take an honest look at the answer
    • And change in places that God is revealing to us
  • End with a quote from Xian Philosopher Jamie K Smith

Jamie K Smith

We are what we want. Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behaviors flow. Our wants reverberate from our heart, the epicenter of the human person. Thus Scripture counsels, ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ (Prov. 4:23)

Discipleship, we might say, is a way to curate your heart, to be attentive to and intentional about what you love. Discipleship is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing. Jesus’ command to follow him is a command to align our loves and longings with his – to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all – a vision encapsulated by what Jesus calls ‘the kingdom of God’.



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