When children first learn to print, a pattern is placed before them of how the letters are to be formed. They practice forming the letters by copying the pattern. In the process children are transformed from not knowing their letters to knowing and printing them.
Patterns can be transformative. I believe that Christian living is to be transformative. One term that expresses this in the New Testament is sanctification. It can refer to the process of becoming holy as well as the result of becoming holy. Is there a pattern for becoming more holy? Listen to these passages that I think give us the pattern that we are to copy and learn until like the child copying letters it becomes a part of us.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, ESV)
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11 ESV)
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13, ESV)
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14–15, ESV)
So what is the pattern? When I hear the gospel I learn of the seriousness of my situation as separated from God, but I also learn of God’s love and Christ’s love in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Prompted by this love, I want to follow him daily. Following him daily means that I will also deny myself and die to myself daily. This self-denial means that I will consider myself dead to sin and I will be working at putting to death the deeds of the body with the help of the Holy Spirit. I will also consider myself alive to God, and I will live for Jesus’ sake. This means putting on the positive qualities that God wants me to have.
- Because of love, I will follow Jesus daily.
- I will deny myself, die to myself daily.
- I will live for God and live for Jesus daily.
- I will rely on the help of the Holy Spirit in this process of sanctification.
When we do this, life will never be the same. This is a transforming pattern.