I first learned the meaning of the word ‘puberty’ in a health class at my intermediate school. To be honest I spent most of the lesson trying not to laugh as the teacher talked about human sexuality and the changes that were coming our way. Puberty sounded fun, well sort of. I was told that everything was about to change. Everyone was on the way towards adulthood, if you liked it or not!
At the time of my 11th birthday I was about the size of a hobbit. Like most of my mates I was weedy and small framed. After that health class things to a turn for better because I began having visions of becoming a man. Watch out world I’m growing up which really meant that I was finally growing a proper set of muscles. No more being picked on. No more getting smashed during bull rush at lunch time. I was so upbeat about my forthcoming manhood I asked mum to add another set of razors to her weekly shopping so that I could tame the beard that was about to be unleashed.
By the end of the year, things hadn’t quite gone to plan. Nor the next year. Nor the year after that. No chest hair. No growth spurt. All I could muster was patchy facial hair that resembled newly laid grass. I was at the mercy of my hormones who were obviously absent during my health class a few years back!
When Christians talk about being “changed” they mean it is an on-going process to be Christ-like. What Jesus did by dying on the cross and being resurrected has put an end to sin, death and evil. Followers of Jesus find their identity and the very means to fuel transformative change within the resources that God gives. The writer Dallas Willard states that there can be a perception that spiritual transformation only really occurs by some sort of “lightning strike of the spirit.” Get that strike right then there has to be change!
There have been many times that I have approached spiritual change like I thought about puberty at age 11. I looked at my small frame and I know through Christ there is life (John 3:16). I want things to change. At times I desire to grow up and be mature however my “hormones” haven’t kicked in yet. Sin still keeps me childish. There are echo’s of Paul’s famous passage in Romans 7.
Here’s the temptation: If only I get “zapped” by God one more time, then I may finally grow up!
The apostle Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 4:16- ‘That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day’. Paul isn’t meaning that there is a disconnect with our bodies from our soul/spirit.
He is reminding Christ followers that God can be invited in a process but He is also active in the constant process of change to lives. The ‘renewed every day’ is our invitation to respond and act appropriately to the work of the Holy Spirit. We can choose to act and align our will (our decisions and actions) to Christ’s invitation towards change. By the grace of God we can find the empowering of the Holy Spirit even in our frailty.
This is a beautiful thing.