The Spirit Transforms

      Comments Off on The Spirit Transforms

To listen to today’s reflection as a podcast, click here

During the month of November, we’re taking a look at 21 essential activities of the Holy Spirit, who represents God’s presence in and through every follower of Jesus.

What do you get when five teenagers are granted super powers and brightly colored spandex suits?

What American children got in 1993 was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a live action TV series based on pre-existing Japanese characters.  The earliest episodes, in fact, featured awkward dialogue dubbed into English.

Critics quickly dismissed the silly plots, cheesy special effects, and poorly choreographed martial arts battles.

But three decades and $6 billion in merchandise sales later, Hollywood definitely takes the Power Rangers seriously.

Through an extraordinary bit of brand extension – “Hey, if one showcase for the characters works, how about a few more?” – the Power Rangers have now appeared in 22 different TV series, not to mention three feature films (all theatrical releases) and a new TV special just this year. 

Multiple casts of young actors have taken their turns playing the five main characters, ordinary teens who turn into powerful warriors wielding special powers, special weapons, and special assault machines that always manage to save our planet.

How exactly do they accomplish this transformation?

They morph.

“It’s morphin time!” even became a popular 90s slogan, one heard ad nauseum by parents of young kids.

“Morph” has since become a mainstream verb in American culture.  Its roots are from the Greek word morphoo, which denotes a fundamental change in someone’s character or identity.  Since the New Testament was written in Greek, it’s not a surprise that there are a few “morphin” texts in Scripture. 

One of them is Romans 12:2, where the apostle Paul urges his readers to experience a metamorphosis – that is, a personal transformation not unlike a caterpillar’s morphing into a butterfly.

At some heartfelt level we all want to morph. 

For instance, as millions of us make our way through the holidays and look toward the beginning of a new year, we resolve to morph our bodies, attitudes, or behaviors.  We dive into self-help books, join support groups, take up new hobbies, change our diets, buy new cars, or optimistically browse new dating sites. 

The Bible makes it clear, however, that finding a new partner or losing a few pounds is not morphing.  Authentic transformation happens from the inside-out, not by means of external adjustments.

Once again, it’s evident that the Holy Spirit is right in the middle of what God is trying to accomplish.    

Paul writes, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed [the Greek here is metamorphoumetha] into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). 

To put that a little more simply, something happens to us when we fix our hearts on God – when we choose to pay attention to the Lord through focused activities like prayer, worship, the study of Scripture, and serving the poor.  As we continue to receive and believe his gifts of grace and forgiveness, we gradually morph into people who not only do what God wants, but actually want to do what God wants. 

It doesn’t happen in a flash.  We become more and more like Christ by degrees – from one degree of glory to another.

And as Paul puts it, this transformation happens “from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  God does an inside job on our “insides” by means of his inside-dwelling Spirit. 

Such transformation is the longing of every human heart.  And it’s available to everyone, not just to a chosen few.

Which means you can always know what time it is.

It’s morphin time.