If you have ever tasted sweet tea, then you are aware of the difference between sweet tea and tea that has had sugar added to it. Sweet tea occurs when sugar is added to the tea while it is still hot and brewing. The sugar and tea actually interact and form a new molecular compound. On the other hand, when sugar is added to regular tea after the brewing process, the sugar is absorbed but the molecular structure remains unchanged. The sugar is simply suspended in the tea. In other words, sweet tea has gone through a transformation process. Regular tea has not. The difference in taste is noticeable. As followers of Christ, God’s transformational work in us is noticeable. But like tea and sugar are not transformed into a new compound until they are actually mixed together, we must apply the truth we learn from Scripture into our lives for God’s transformational process to continue.
Last week in our family devotion time, we began a new study from LifeWay called Read the Bible for Life. In the study, author George Guthrie asks participants to share a difference that regular Bible reading has made in your life. My son shared with our family that when he reads the Bible daily, his attitude improves. He has less anxiety and he handles difficult situations better. He said that his perspective is clearer. The simple change of starting each day by reading and applying the Bible instead of going straight to work has a transformational impact on his life.
Application is something we do;
Transformation is God’s work
When it comes to you as a person, and to your Sunday School class as a group, there is a marked difference between knowledge and applying that knowledge into our daily lives. Application is our work, but transformation is God’s work. Below is a simple process that helps illustrate how God continues to transform us into the image of His son.
It begins with a personal decision each of us must make. When you became a Christian, you made a choice: confess your sin, repent, and believe in Christ as your Lord and Savior (your action), and then God transforms you from death to new life in Christ. Following salvation, the transformative work of God continues as God rids our lives of the old dead fleshly habits. We face decisions daily of what to do with our old self. Am I going to apply biblical truth to my daily life? Am I going to set aside the idols and bad habits that now exist in my life to make room for new, godly disciplines that God uses to help transform me? Things like:
- Less television, more Bible reading;
- Controlling my speech, listening more attentively;
- Less self-centeredness, more interest in others;
- Less complaining, more time in prayer.
As I begin changing my habits and immersing myself in godly spiritual disciplines, God begins the transformative work in my mind. I am more in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit. As Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be renewed by the transforming of your mind…”
When we commit to make spiritual changes in our lives and stick with that commitment, the transformative work of God takes place within us. These spiritual decisions we have made are like adding sugar to into hot tea. It is transformational in nature.
A Sunday School group that is studying the Bible and obeying the leading of the Spirit is going to be transformational. Groups that hear and study the word of God without application are not going to transform anything… not their lives, not their church, and certainly not their culture. Application is how we apply God’s truth to our lives; transformation is the Spirit’s work on our souls and ultimately on our society.
For further study
2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:20-21
Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School & Adult Discipleship specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob also blogs on his own website, www.bobmayfield.com