Called to be Transformed
By: Elizabeth Muise
My dear sisters, I am not a writer, and am naturally terrified to publish these words, so I humbly present this blog post to challenge you to start asking and thinking the difficult, but necessary, questions of faith. Hopefully you can receive what I have written with understanding that I love each of you deeply. Yes, I do not know some of you yet, nor could I ever know you fully on earth (only our Creator can), but I truly want life, happiness, joy, light, radical holiness, and intimate union with Christ for you!
Last week I turned 24 years old (or as I call it, “The Holy Club!”), and to start the year out right, I wanted to do a 6:30 AM book study on the Fulfillment of All Desires by Ralph Martin with the wonderful Rachel Herbeck, Aria Marcarelli, Anne Roelant, and Emily Lizzio. The book is intense, but if you are truly serious about pursuing intimacy with the Lord, I highly recommend reading and praying with it! As I read through the first chapter in preparation for our meeting, I was moved to an uncomfortable awakening, and great sense of urgency to amend my life and pursue what Ralph Martin so eloquently called to my attention:
“Jesus summed up His teaching in a startling and unambiguous call to His followers: ‘You, therefore, must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:48) Perfect in purity of heart, perfect in compassion and love, perfect in obedience, perfect in conformity to the will of the Father, perfect in holiness – when we hear these words we can be understandably tempted to discouragement, thinking this is impossible. And indeed, left on our own resources, it certainly is – But with God, all things are possible, even our transformation.”
Okay, let’s get real, what does “holiness” actually mean? I have noticed a lack of use of this word in our vocabulary because we fear the extremity of the word. For me, the word “holy” often made me jump to the idea of intense piety, such as kneeling on the tile floor wearing a hair shirt and never enjoying a donut ever again in my life. (Am I the only one who thought this?) But let’s look at what Ralph Martin has to say about it:
“It (holiness) is a matter of having our hearts transformed into a heart of Love (with a capital “L”). It is a matter of fulfilling the great commandments which sum up the whole law and prophets: to love God and our neighbor whole heartedly. Or as Teresa of Avila put it: Holiness is a matter of bringing our wills into union with God’s will.”
Holiness is to be transformed. It is to become one with God. Have you ever thought of that? It’s mind blowing, isn’t it? Have you ever thought of this as being your ultimate calling? Or, like most Christians, do you just look at faith in Jesus as a life enhancer? I hate to break it to you, but just because you attend BeLoved events or other youth groups, or keep a perfect prayer journal that you personally decorated, or like and share cute Christian quotes on Instagram and other social media platforms (although these are all helpful in aiding you on the path of holiness), it doesn’t mean you are becoming holy, or growing in your relationship with Jesus. If you just go through the motions and play the role of “good Christian girl” to be praised and affirmed by others, and don’t allow Him to change you, then your foundation is based on the sand of your own vanity, and when the storms come (change of social group, dryness of emotions, persecution from others, etc.), your foundation will crumble and fall, and you be washed away with the destructive tides of the world.
But there is good news! You can’t achieve perfect union, perfect happiness, and perfect holiness on your own! Our cooperation is necessary, but only God's grace is sufficient! Take courage, dear heart! Our God is so good and will fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts (whether we know right now what they are or not). You just need to surrender.
Whether you have never heard this truth before, or are already desiring holiness, I want to give you some practical tips that have helped me on this journey:
INTENTIONALLY PRAY – I know you are told to pray A LOT, but I truly mean it. To get to know the living God, to allow Him to speak to you, work with you, and receive His love, you need to converse with Him. Praise and worship is powerful, prayer journals help us process, but I’m talking about sitting in silence and finding him in the inner depth of your heart where he loves to meet you and speak to you. Pray honestly, and use that God-given imagination to see His face and meet His gaze.
INTENTIONALLY PLUCK OUT ALL THAT IS CAUSING YOU TO SIN – Here is the uncomfortable part. If you want to be holy you must “Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). Sin is a freely chosen act that isolates us from God and inflicts harm on ourselves and our relationships. All sin, great or small leads us away from the “Glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom 8:21). So I challenge you all to examine yourselves and not only truly see the sins you have committed, but also see all that may be causing you to sin. For example, I used to be obsessed with watching The Bachelor, but on reflecting how it led me into sexual sins, sins of judgement, etc., I deleted my Hulu account because I value that which will purify me over the dramatic and raunchy entertainment of the show.
INTENTIONALLY SEEK OUT TRIALS – Romans 5:3-5 says, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” This is a hard one, but I remember when I was a spring chicken after my initial encounter with the living God, I realized I had so much growth that needed to happen, especially in loving others, so I proposed the idea of getting up off my butt every time a younger sibling of mine needed a drink or demand from my mom that I could easily fulfill. It was hard, but virtue was built in those small acts of love.
In conclusion, my dear sisters, we are all called to holiness! But you must desire it, you must be willing to cast off all that isolates you from Life and Love Himself. I beg you to not turn away and forfeit perfection and our heavenly reward that is promised again and again in the scriptures. “Our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” (Philippians 3:20-21; 4:1) I pray for all of you every day on this journey toward transformation into Love! May we continue to run the good race and bring others into this perfect happiness. Pray for me as well.
Elizabeth Muise is the Creative Director for The Be Love Revolution. You can find out more about her here.