Imagine that we could carry on a conversation with a caterpillar and I was to tell him that he could grow and become bigger, but he’d have to shed his skin. He might say, “I like my skin. I was born with this skin. I can’t change it. I don’t want to change it.” But for a caterpillar to grow it has to shed its skin. What if I said to the caterpillar that he could be transformed?  Instead of crawling around on branches and eating leaves, he could fly across meadows and drink the nectar of beautiful flowers. But to do so you will have to give up most of your legs. And you will have to grow antennae. He might respond by saying that he likes all of his legs. They are an essential part of who he is and he cannot give them up. He might say that he loves munching on leaves and doesn't even like nectar anyway. But the miracle is that caterpillars do undergo a radical transformation called metamorphosis and make the incredible change into butterflies. The insect’s identity is radically changed.
     Christianity is radical, Jesus himself was radical and if we identify with and follow him we will also be radically different from others around us. There have been times and places in American history where embracing Christ may not have seemed radical, because the culture was very accepting of Jesus, scriptural authority and the truth of the Gospel. Needless to say, that is not the case in 21st century America. When the culture changes the rules change.  And when the rules change what is allowed and not allowed changes. Core beliefs about identity and values change. We are also living in a time when you are not allowed to question individual identity. The “trump card” that is often played in this case is the phrase, “born that way.”  In regard to identity, especially sexual identity, discussion is not allowed.  There can be no debate.  By a defiant declaration it is confirmed, “I was born that way and it is impossible to change my identity or orientation.” To question or debate the assertion is called hatred and bigotry.
     Well at the heart of the Gospel is a call to radical transformation. In Christ we make the most fundamental and lasting changes regarding our identities, values, roles and goals. As believers and followers of Christ our identities are rooted and grounded in our relationship with him. It is out of this relationship that we develop our values, determine the roles that we have in different relationships and pursue the depths of understanding who we are and who we are becoming in Christ.  In Christ, who I am is who I am becoming. In 1 Corinthians 5:17 the Apostle Paul says,“ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Who I am in Christ, is different from who I am in the flesh—that is the old self.
      Paul acknowledges that we still live in this fleshly body, but he offers the hope, motivation and purpose for living that comes from our new identity in Christ. Paul recounts the high status and great achievements of his past life.  But he says that because of his new identity in Christ, he has given them all up.  He now considers them to be rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness that comes from his new identity in his relationship with Christ. Paul says his goal is to please Christ.  One day he will stand before Christ and he fears having lived a life that disappoints Jesus who loves him and gave his life for him. Many times our struggle in identity is related to who we are trying to please.  We pick which group of classmates, coworkers, celebrities, friends, etc. whose judgment we are going to conform to and we develop our identity in a way that conforms to their expectations.  We want to please them, to fit in and be accepted. Paul is saying above everything and everyone else he wants to please Christ.  “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10.

What we are is known to God and that is what counts! 

     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.  A real death has taken place and a new life has begun. We still live in the flesh and so we will still stumble and fall.  But that is not who we are. Because of our relationship to Jesus we have his righteousness. Our sin was nailed to the cross. We reckon ourselves as dead to the old self and alive as new creations in Christ who are being changed day by day from glory to glory! This alone should be the cause for us to celebrate transformation. What a transformation celebration we should be having each and everyday. knowing your true identity in Christ will give you a peace like no other and confidence to stand tall and know that your life is meaningful and pleasing to God and Jesus.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul says it like this....

     What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. The life of Jesus showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Jesus lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to discard God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

      Remember that there are three key aspects of identity: 1) The values I hold, 2) The roles I play and 3) The destination I am pursuing. Find your identity in Jesus and be transformed to the point you can't stop celebrating your transformation. Think back to the caterpillar and the  butterfly, even though one was beautiful before hand after the transformation one became even more beautiful than before.
That is a Transformation Celebration.