Radical Renewal

A young girl holds a butterfly in her hand

As followers of Christ, we are in need of metamorphosis.Our spiritual growth requires radical change.

Consider, for a moment, the biological process of metamorphosis, which can be seen in a variety of creatures, such as toads and dragonflies. As the process begins, their bodies are altered, their cells are reconfigured, and even their behavioral patterns are modified. The process is astonishing — clear evidence of the ingenuity and artistry of our Creator! And it's a fitting analogy of God's desire for human life. 

The apostle Paul spoke often of such transformation,using the Greek word metamorphousthe (metamorphosis). Paul urges Christians to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). The salvation that Jesus offers us is much more than a "get out of hell" card. It involves a moral, spiritual and mental transformation that takes place in this life.

But living a transformed life is complicated by one rather significant hurdle: We can't do it. Though we try our best, we will fail. That's because a transformed life is something that God does in us. When we give God control of our lives, He begins reshaping and transforming us into something new and wonderful.

This is why the Bible talks about our being transformed. God is the agent of transformation, not us. Paul says that,through God's power, we "are being transformed into his [Christ's] likeness" (2 Corinthians 3:18,emphasis added).

IfGod is the agent, then what is the mechanism of this change? In Romans 12:2,Paul explains that transformation comes through the renewal of the mind. TheGreek word for mind refers to our understanding, attitude and entire way of thinking. In some ways, the word mind here could be translated as "worldview" — the mental lens through which we view, interpret and respond to the world around us.

As parents, we need to teach our kids not just to memorize Bible verses, but also to think biblically. We must instill in our kids a passion for soaking upScripture and letting it dictate the way they think about God, suffering,poverty, sex, love, justice, forgiveness, truth, healing and what it means to be human.

The following activities and discussions will help your kids understand the remarkable process of spiritual transformation.

Key Points

  • Salvation includes living a transformed life.
  • Transformation is impossible apart from God.
  • A transformed life begins with a renewed mind.

Family Memory Verse

Romans 12:2

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Scripture Study

For a more in-depth look at living a transformed life, read these Bible passages:

  • Romans 8:29

  • Ephesians 4:17-24

  • Philippians 2:12-13

  • Colossians 3:1-4

—Preston M. Sprinkle

Preschool Activity

As a parent, you have witnessed your child's transformation from a baby to a child. Use this activity to help your child understand why God wants her to grow and change, both physically and spiritually.

Snuggle up together and look at photographs of your child, beginning with pictures of her as an infant. Talk about the ways she has changed since she was born. Use a handheld mirror to help her see the differences. Is her hair the same color? Does she have more of it? How much bigger is she now than when she was 2 years old? What things can she do now that she couldn't do when she was a baby or toddler? 

As you talk about the ways she has changed, explain that God wants her to continue growing so she can learn and do new things that make God happy. As she grows and learns more about God, she's able to show love to others the way He does.

Tina Cho

School-age Activity

Change is all around us! Use this activity to help your kids understand that transformation is a part of God's design and this change only happens through His power and grace.

Arm your kids with a notepad and pencil and ask them to document parts of God's creation in various stages of change. You might do this by looking through nature books or taking a walk around your yard or a local park. Observe trees filling out with new leaves, young birds exploring their world, flowers sprouting petals, butterflies taking flight on newly formed wings. 

Ask your kids if these things looked the same three months ago. Will they look the same three months from now? Then ask if all these transformations could occur without God's influence. Could flowers bloom and caterpillars change to butterflies if there were no sunshine or rain?

Explain to your kids that God also desires people to grow and change. Just as creation continually relies on God's power, our lives also need to be under God's control. Then we can be transformed in wonderful ways by Him.

—Ellen Stumbo 

Tween Activity

To help your children understand what it means to be spiritually transformed by Christ, use their bedrooms as examples. Look around each child's room and talk about how her room gives clues about her interests and reflects who she is as a person. Now, transform the space for a whole new purpose. 

Gather a few cups, golf clubs and balls. (You may improvise with other sports gear or toys if you don't own golf equipment.) Explain to your children that they'll have 15 minutes to create a miniature golf course in their bedrooms. If your children share a room, they can divide the space. The kids should work independently and only use items available in their rooms to create the course. When time is up, play through the golf course together. 

Talk with your tweens about how they were able to transform their rooms into something new. Explain that when Christ comes into our lives, He also transforms our lives into something new. He changes our heart and our mind so that we become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). 

Ask: What are some items in your room that indicate that you have been transformed through Jesus? What else in your life is evidence of your faith?

—Sharen Pearson

Time With Your Teen

"You complete me." 

This classic line from the movie Jerry Maguire reflects a pervasive social message about dating: You can find your value and identity through a romantic relationship. Not surprisingly, the longing for a significant other is rampant among teens today. 

In a teen culture that embraces this message, it can be hard to prioritize a relationship with Christ over relationships with others. But Scripture makes it clear that we find our completion in Christ, so making God a priority is central to the transformation He wants to accomplish in us.

A vital task teens face is discovering who God created them to be by recognizing their own strengths, interests, passions, gifts and weaknesses. As teens seek to please others and become who they think others want them to be, they can shut down that process of self-discovery. As parents, do we really want our teens to be conformed to the relationship pressures around them?

Help your teen explore avenues of getting to know herself better. An assortment of extracurricular activities, academic events, church groups and community service can help your teen discover who she is. 

Be curious about your teen's thinking. Ask questions. Discuss why she thinks the way she does. What (or who) is influencing her? Encourage your teen to study her Bible so she will be transformed through the renewing of her mind rather than conformed through cultural influences or a significant other. Pray that God will renew the mind of your teen (Romans 12:2).

—Dr. Steve and Twyla Lee 

The compiled article originally appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

The compiled article is copyright © 2012 by Focus on the Family. The introduction is © 2012 by Preston M. Sprinkle. "Preschool Activity" is © 2012 by Tina Cho. "School-age Activity" is © 2012 by Ellen Stumbo. "Tween Activity" is © 2012 by Sharen Pearson. "Time With Your Teen" is © 2012 by Focus on the Family. Used by permission. 

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