“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” -Hosea 10:12
It is one thing to say that spiritual transformation is the heart of the Christian life, but it is another thing entirely to attempt to explain how this transformation works. Unfortunately, without some direction towards pursuing such a glorious permutation, one is left merely hoping for this all-encompassing change to take place on its own. One simply has to look around to recognize that this “wait and see” approach has limited results. Thus, it was significant when one commentor asked this very question, and combined it with a rather astute insight:
“…how exactly does that transformation take place? Certainly not by an act of our will, or else we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. In my opinion, it is active grace that transforms a person who is willing to submit, but may not be capable of being fully submitted through their own will power.” -Allie
I have to agree that willpower will always fall short of leading to a restored life. Also, I love the imagery of an “active grace”, and concur with the idea that submission is of absolute necessity in the Christian experience – provided that submission is not a passive acceptance, and rather an active response to the manifest will of God. I would, however, take the quest for spiritual transformation a step further.
I love this passage in Hosea, and it falls in a rather interesting spot within the proclamation made by this prophet. The surrounding passages are ones which speak of judgment for disobedience, but in the midst of them we find this gem – a vision of what God hopes for His people. The imagery is one often used throughout scripture. A seed is sown, the ground cultivated, the rain streams nourishment, the sunlight provides warmth, and a tiny plant grows into maturity. This is how our spiritual growth happens.
The truth is, we are not responsible for our own transformation. We can’t be. Our redemption is won by Jesus, and our salvation worked through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. We become a changed creature, renewed into the image of our creator, as a work solely of God, in much the same way a seed grows into a sapling. The farmer does not make the seed grow… however, the farmer DOES work to actively cultivate an environment within which that tiny plant might best flourish.
So it is with us. We may not be the ones doing the transforming, but we are the ones enriching the soil of our soul, digging up the hardened ground in our hearts, pulling the weeds which threaten to choke our spiritual life, and nurturing that same life with the rain of the worship of the Spirit of God. We may not be the Savior of our souls, but we are certainly participants in its restoration.
When we boil it all down, this is the core of discipleship.
What about you? What role do you see us playing in our personal spiritual transformation? How does this compare with your understanding of the relationship between discipleship and Christian salvation?
- The Bible: Understanding the “Work in Progress” God (ofdustandkings.com)
- Christian Contentment and the Kingdom of God (ofdustandkings.com)
- The Kingdom of God: Eternity Begins Now (ofdustandkings.com)