“Shape Shifters”

In one of the old science fiction TV programs the writers created a being who could rearrange its molecules to mimic people or things. Quite a skill indeed. Imagine trying to escape from this being knowing it could be anyone or anything. These shape shifters were nearly always the villains and their talents made for some scary plots.

Normal humans cannot duplicate this ability, but they can borrow traits, both good and bad, to simulate a different identity. “Just be yourself” seems like good advice, but isn’t our present identity a mosaic of behavior we have assimilated over the years? Perhaps
this is why many people, especially small children, enjoy dressing up in various costumes. They can pretend to be whomever they want with little risk.

The New Testament often speaks of the new person that one should become after his/her rebirth (Jo 3:3,5). This growth, however, has a clear focus. We are called to leave the old person behind and grow toward the standard set by the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pe 2:2) (2 Pe 3: 18) (Eph 4:14-15). We have been told to put to death behavior that belongs to our earthly nature and strive to put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge of its Creator (Col 3:5-10). This we can do with the help of the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:16).

In one sense we are putting on a costume. We are to, “…clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forgiving others as the Lord forgave us.” (Col 3:12-13) We are not shape shifters, but to the extent that we put on Christ-like behavior, we may no longer be recognizable to those who knew the old person we once were (Col 4:5-6). Our bodies may look no different, but our minds and hearts are now, “…set on things above…not on earthly things” (Col 3:1-4) (Rom 12:1). We will not be totally without sin, but if with humility we confess those sins, God will
forgive us (1 Jo 1:8-10). We can then continue to shift our shape and walk in the light (1 Jo 1:6-7).

—Jim Bailey