There's an old joke going around. How many elders does it take to change a light bulb? CHANGE????!!!! Honestly, my shepherds aren't like that, but many are. A lot of people, not just elders, are. What is it about change that so frightens us? We like to be comfortable. We want things where they are so there are no surprises.
Let's face it, change is inevitable. We are surrounded by change. Weather, traffic, people we see, food we eat, everything changes constantly. There's an old truism that says, "The only thing constant is change." Learning is change.
Now, before anyone panics, the gospel never changes. Paul told the Galatians that if he or an angel from heaven preached another gospel than the one already given, let him be accursed...literally, anathema. Paul said, preach another gospel and you can (his words, not mine) go to hell.
Here's how The Message paraphrases Romans 12:1, 2:
So here's what I want you to do. God helping you. Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusts to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.
The NIV calls us to be transformed. The Greek word is where we get our word metamorphosis. The question becomes, "Changed to what?". In II Corinthians 3, Paul is talking about the New Covenant and he uses the illustration of Moses coming down from the mountain after seeing God. He said they had to cover his face with a veil because he glowed, literally, so much. But the new covenant takes the veil away. At the end of the passage, he says, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, all are being transformed (here it comes!) into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." We are being transformed into being like Christ Himself!
How do you measure progress in such a venture? We tend to quantify such things. What's our attendance been? How many baptisms have we had? What's our contribution? Up or down is the difference between success or failure. But Peter comes along and says, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." (II Peter 1:5-7) Now listen to what he says about these qualities. "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Peter 1:8) Let me ask you a question. How do you quantify faith? How about goodness? Or knowledge or self-control or perseverance or godliness or brotherly kindness or love? Do you say, "Well, I'm up to 56% on faith today, but down a little in the godliness. I'm only at 47%"? Peter says to have them in increasing measure.
These process of change, of transformation is a life-long process. We'll never achieve it. To become like Christ is a phenomenal goal and what a trip it is a we morph into being like Him. Lord come quickly.