Getting to the root of the Word

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When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office. Not because I skipped class or sassed my teachers or caused problems, but because I was a bit of a non-conformist. One thing you should know about me is that I love hats and there’s nothing better than a hat on a bad hair day. Trust me when I say that, in the 80s, I had LOTS of bad hair days. I had that whole lion-mane-mall-bangs look. Plus I lived in Texas, and as the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas, especially the hair. So yeah, I donned many a hat. And wearing hats was against “the rules”…unless you were a guy. Can anyone say “double standard”? I pretty much loathe double standards. Always have.

So I “voiced” my annoyance at the seemingly bogus rule by wearing hats to school. Each time I did, my first period teacher would send me to the principal’s office where we’d have chats about everything from rules to politics to the future of education. That poor man listened patiently while I unloaded my frustrations about the world and sports. Yes, sports. It was Texas. Sports were/are king, queen, AND the royal court. I was a theater geek. We were the foppish jesters, rogues and vagabonds, begging for funding. I digress…

I look back on that time and think of how much easier things could have been for me had I just conformed to the rules. The hat rule wasn’t the only one I broke. There were a couple of others that involved discrimination. More double standards. Nicknames preceded and followed me down halls and into classrooms. More than I can remember, or more than I want to remember. They weren’t all bad, mind you, but they weren’t my name.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was sitting in my booth with my friends, Cori and Lady Di, I read a verse that God had put on my heart: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Cori, who was struggling with some things, honed in on the “testing” portion of the scripture. Lady Di focused on understanding the perfect will of God. I, on the other hand, zeroed in on two words: conform and transform.

The root of both words, obviously, is “form”.

In the beginning, Genesis tells us, the earth was “formless”. Nothing was here. God brought form and He formed us: “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7). Such a beautiful picture of God, the artist, creating man with nothing but dust and a breath.

I explored the two words and looked first at the prefix “con” in relation to “form”. Con means several things:

  • deception trickery
  • in opposition to, against
  • slang for a convict

Paul tells us not to be conformed to this world. I believe understanding the “con” helps us see why:

  • The world deceives us, and tricks us.
  • The world is in opposition to what God has formed.
  • The world wants to live outside the law. The world wants to lock us in its prison so the devil can throw away the key.

Next, I dug into the prefix “trans”. It means:

  • across or through
  • complete change

So I can conform or BE transformed. I own the conforming. God owns the transforming.

  • I can live in the lie of the world’s deception, or I can allow God to transform me with His truth.
  • I can be in opposition to God, or I can let the Holy Spirit run across me and through me.
  • I can be a prisoner, a convict, or I can be set free.

The word “trans” doesn’t just mean changed. It means complete change. Why?

On the cross, Jesus “was in the form of God” and He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus completed it. He uttered “It is finished!” upon His death. It was, as Oswald Chambers tells us, “the final word in the redemption of humankind.”

Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians, “you also are complete through your union with Christ” (2:10). He completed it and in Him I am complete. Total transformation.

Looking back on my days as a non-conformist, I realize I was preparing myself for a Christian walk that doesn’t conform to the ways of this world but allows God to transform me. Praise Him.

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10 thoughts on “Getting to the root of the Word

  1. Great piece and very good word study. I like this sentence, “I can be a prisoner, a convict, or I can be set free”. How true. I wish everyone could understand this, thanks so much “neighbor”.

    • Thanks so much, Levi! I think some people prefer being shackled to their past, living in the bondage of their sin. My Savior died so I could be free from that kind of life. He opened the door and set the prisoners free. Some people find comfort in the walls, I guess. How sad for them. We just need to be witnesses to the Truth and pray many of them find their way out of the darkness.

  2. Another pair of words. I had a sudden picture of you at the doorway to the Ark – checking-in all the different word pairings. Saving them from the flood 🙂

    What has caught my attention in the last few posts is the way your “downtime” includes so much “verse time” with others. I am not familiar with others whose writings and insights I value doing it your way either. Mostly this bible study is a solitary affair with “our God”. You make it a hobby … a spontaneous spark … a team sport. That “wows” me more than I can describe.

    And the jewels it forms really do transform. Whatever definition of conform anyone might prefer, none of them would apply to you and God. Thank God.

    • Paul, I must say I slapped a Cheshire grin across my face when I imagined checking in my word pairs at the Ark. Words have been a lifelong passion, but God’s Word is a heartbeat for me, pumping life into me.

      I have discovered that the more I allow God to transform my heart and mind, the less I crave conformity. I am becoming like the newborn who “craves pure spiritual milk”. Sharing His Word with others who crave it and Him as much (or more) than I do is a blessing, a gift for which I am truly grateful.

      Whether in a booth with my friends, at my desk in my home, or across the ones and zeros of HTML code, God is present and is moving in us, through us, across us and preparing the fertile soil of our hearts to produce verdant orchards of fruit.

      The words I devour here in the Blogosphere (your words as well as those whose hearts also beat for our Father) strengthen my walk, my faith, and my relationship with Him. Thank you for listening to Him and letting me be a part of your transformation. 🙂

      • Your passion for his Word flows with a powerful passion (and some lovely weird stuff which has to be the brain you are blessed with!). Always makes me look closer at the screen here!! Transform away – it is a privilege!

  3. I really like how you dug into the words conform and transform and the verses you used to cross reference. This is one of my favorite verses of late, thanks for the added insight!

    • Thank you! That verse struck me several weeks ago and hasn’t let go. It’s funny how my friends and I had completely different parts of the same verse strike us so deeply. God works on us through His living Word. Each word is relevant.
      Have a blessed day!

  4. Morning Heather, I think the WORD is going to your head and heart and transforming you.
    But, when I read it, you take me with you. The trip is good thanks. Dianna

    • Thank you, Lady Di. Our “verse time” on Saturdays (as Paul calls it) is feeding me and creating a hunger in me, too. The more I read and explore His Word (even just one or two of them!), the more I crave it. No matter where we sit, He is there, guiding us through His majestic Word. Praise Him!

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