Rev. Mike Olmsted: More than change; think ‘metamorphoo’

Published 8:21 am Friday, February 9, 2018

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

​Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Rev. Mike Olmsted

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Westminster Presbyterian pastor

I don’t like change! Change is inconvenient, unsettling, and unpredictable. But most importantly, change is uncontrollable. I often feel like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts film, “Snoopy, Come Home,” when he sings, “Just when you think that you know where you stand, that you’ve got the world in your hands. Just when you’re sure of a dream that you’ve planned, that’s when the scenery changes. It Changes!”

How many of us feel the same way as our old friend Charlie Brown? We work so hard at knowing where we stand and living out our plans, and just when we’re sure we got it all figured out, things change.

But just because I don’t like change, doesn’t mean that change is not often exactly what I need. I’ve realized over the years that change can be a healthy and necessary component of our lives. It can cause growth, renewal and ultimately restoration to happen in our lives. Change is what we need to restart us and allow us to be the people that God wants us to be. This is the type of change that the Apostle Paul is communicating to his readers in Romans 12:2. This is the type of change that comes from our God. It is a change that leads us closer to the good and pleasing and perfect will of our God in Heaven.

In his writing, Paul uses the term “transformation” which comes from the Greek word “metamorphoo.” This is obviously where we get “metamorphosis.” The Merriam-Webster definition of this term is “a typically marked and more or less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of something.” A caterpillar morphing into a butterfly; winter changing into spring; a crucified Jesus transforming into the physically resurrected presence of Christ our Lord. Transformation is the process of improvement, elevation and salvation. Paul was telling his readers that we must do more than conform, or change, to the ways of the world around us. We must seek to be transformed to the ways of Christ Jesus.

As we approach the season of Lent this year, let us all seek out a season of transformation and renewal. At Westminster, we enter into Lent with an Ash Wednesday service. The last few years we have added the Imposition of the Ashes into this already meaningful service. For me personally, this element has added a wonderful sense of renewal to our worship. As we physically place the mark of the cross on the forehead or the hand and offer the traditional words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” we are symbolically transformed from a life of sin to a life of love and grace.

So while we will still grumble over change, let us embrace the transformation that God is bringing into our lives. And so, just like Charlie whose faithful companion Snoopy returns home, we too can be restored and renewed when we return home to the grace and presence of our Lord. Let us all be renewed and restored as we seek transformation in our lives. Amen!

The Rev. Mike Olmsted is a pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin