As I built my list, I had to alter my vocabulary. The markers were of Christians being transformed, not already transformed. People-in-process, not finished products. See the change in tense? Actually, I don't think any of us is ever fully transformed or mature until (Philippians says this) Jesus completely changes us on that great ultimate day of transformation. This is our great hope.
But until then, what are the signs that transformation is happening? Here goes.
A transformed Christian …
1. Has an undiluted devotion to Jesus. Personally, I am drawn to the word devotion rather than love for Jesus. It is difficult to escape the sentimental flavoring in the word love. And I do not find sentimental love in that follow-me relationship Jesus initiated with his disciples.
For me, devotion suggests something more deliberate, even calculated.
It's not absent emotion but not defined by it either. Devotion infers a determination that one will organize his/her life around Jesus: his quality of character, his summons to know God as Jesus knows him, his unique grace and forgiveness for sins.
I, for one, believe that a transforming Christian renews his intention to be faithful to Jesus' influence on a regular basis, not because he is unsure but because he doesn't want to lose that "edge" of proactive commitment.
As the years of my own Christian life have passed, I've become more diligent in doing this, just as I have become more intentional about re-marrying (in spirit) my wife, Gail, again each day. I know she and I possess a piece of paper that says we were married a long time ago. But my heart says, Why not re-declare your desire to marry her again today? She'll love you for it. I have come to feel the same way about my devotion to Jesus as my Savior and rabbi-leader as I retool my life around what I see and hear of him.
2. Pursues a biblically informed view of the world. This means aiming to know the Bible well: its content and its imperatives.
There seems to be a universal concern in the Christian movement concerning biblical illiteracy. Blame it on busyness, technology, too many translations, the demise of Sunday school, or something else. But one thing is sure: we seem to be losing a working knowledge of our sacred literature. We think it okay to outsource Bible knowledge to preachers, writers, and instructors.
The transforming Christ-follower understands that he cannot simply live off the monologues of a favorite preacher. He must—to reflect the Psalmist—hide God's Word in his own heart so that it becomes a lamp to his feet, a light to his path.
3. Is intentional and disciplined in seeking God's direction in life. Eugene Peterson employs the term responsive obedience when he paraphrases Paul's challenge to the Philippians to push themselves toward increasing Christian maturity. Interestingly, he is writing to a church heavily populated by retired Roman military personnel. So Paul's letter is packed with military terms, "responsive obedience" being an example. As a soldier conditioned himself for battle, so the Christian, Paul said, was to "work out" his role in facing a morally dangerous world.
No transforming Christ-follower would ever be comfortable with spiritual passivity. Rather, a transforming follower of Jesus expects a battle. There will be choices, opportunities, opposition. And he prepares for all of it diligently. This is sometimes referred to as self-discipline. It means living by intention and commitment, developing life-habits in alignment with Jesus and replacing those that are not.