I believe in inner transformation as the path to being a follower of Jesus, even when I don’t practice that belief. A few years ago, a friend gave me Martin Smith’s A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent, and I read it each Lenten season for a few years. Martin describes and guides the reader to transformation throughout the book. Here is a passage that can help to break open my resistance to change. He begins by describing the anger of the congregation at Nazareth when they realized that Jesus threatened to put an end to tradition, and goes on to say:
“The same resistance to the hospitality of God is ingrained in the heart. The Spirit’s work in the heart is not a matter of a few adjustments here and there, a little polishing and refining. There has to be a breaking-up of the present order. Jesus proclaims to each the acceptable year of the Lord in which all the banished and excluded sides of ourselves can now be welcomed for healing and empowerment. We have been given notice that the false selves we maintain at the cost of excluding so much that is within us are purely provisional arrangements; they must give way to a new way of being. And so the scriptures speak of a breaking down of the old way of being a person and the discovery of a completely new one. They speak of crucifying the old self with Christ. Nothing milder than these expressions will do justice to the radical change in our living meant by metanoia, the repentance Jesus proclaimed after he emerged from the wilderness.”
Smith, Martin L. A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent, tenth anniversary edition. Cowley Publications, 1991. Page 42.