On Weight Loss Programs, Reformation, and Transformation


2 Corinthians 3:17–18 (ESV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


In America, with few exceptions, we all want to know what we need to do in order to lose weight. And everyone is eager to tell us. From Keto diets to intermittent fasting to the management of macro-nutrients to cross-fit training to the whole thirty to any number of pre-packaged food products and supplements, there is no end to the weight loss systems and solutions out there. Some will tell us to weigh every day. Others will tell us to throw away the scales. Some tell us to count calories. Others tell us to count points. Some tell us to lift weights. Others tell us to run faster. And frankly, there is no end to our willingness to buy into one or more or twenty of these schemes across the decades of our lives. The truth is all of them work. The truth is, also, none of them work. 

All of them are built around a highly functionalized model of behavior management. If you will do these things and not do these other things you will experience the change you seek, i.e. weight loss. Through one’s behavior they essentially transform themselves. It works to the extent you work. This functional model works but its working is 100 percent dependent on you sticking with the program. The minute you stop working the program everything reverts back. There is a term for this kind of program in all of its forms. The term is reformation. It is the endless agenda and effort to re-form something to what it was before. 

On so many fronts (weight loss among them), we have all been seduced by and caught in an endless cycle of reformation. The same can be said of our churches. 

Reformation is not a bad thing. I just don’t think it is really what Jesus is up to. In other words, Jesus does not work by a functional model of change. He works by a transcendent model of formation. Jesus is about transformation not reformation. We are not reforming ourselves with God’s help. God is transforming us with our participation. 

See what happens when the two words come together: trans-form. Jesus does not bring a program of re-formation to people or the church. He brings a process of trans-formation. Reformation is an external change program. Transformation is a process of the transfiguration of our inner person; of becoming that which is presently beyond our ability to comprehend. It is not the recovery of a past form but the receiving of a future form in the present state. 

Reformation works—if you will work it. It is a hard fought outcome. It will require unrelenting, often slavish, effort. And when you stop working, it will stop working, and you will immediately begin reverting back. Transformation is of another order entirely. Transformation is a gift. In fact, it is a glory. It comes not by functional activity but by transcendent receptivity. 

2 Corinthians 3:17–18 is a revealed picture of how transformation works. We will spend a few days here. Now re-read today’s text, slowly and aloud, and see what you see in it. I would love it if you would transcribe this onto a card where you could ruminate and eventually rememberize it. This is a lifer text. 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


Abba Father, I am so familiar with all of my ways. You are familiar with them as well. I want to become familiar with your ways. I want to learn this way of transformation. Would you stir your Spirit into me such that the eyes of my heart become more opened to behold Jesus; that I might become transformed into his likeness; from one degree of glory to the next. Praying in his name, amen. 


What contrasts do you see with reformation and transformation? Even if they might lead to some of the same outcomes, how does the process of getting there strike you as different? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

Subscribe to the Daily Text Here

P.S. Would you Consider Purchasing a Book from the Holy Spirit Series? 

Dear Friends, you know I am a sower not a seller, and I don’t do this often, but I want to ask you to consider pre-ordering a copy of the most recent series Still Day One. I looked Friday and we had only sold 154 copies. We would normally have sold over a thousand by now. I know the economy is real. It’s real for us too. Now, if you didn’t love the series . . . that’s another thing. But if you did, help a sower out and show us some love. ;0) 

Share today's Wake-Up Call!


WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. So, what’s the difference between reformation and transformation, and how do they differ in process? Both of these seek the same outcome, change. In my opinion, the real difference is the source of the power to achieve the desired goal and the type of effort on our part. To achieve reform requires us to exercise our own will, in the strength of our own power, towards a desired goal; we are active. Transformation, on the other hand, requires our submission to the holy will of God under His power, to facilitate the desired goal of change; we are passive.

  2. Reformation changes “form” (behavior, structure, appearance, and/or organization). Transformation goes beyond “form” to presence (“with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord”). It changes the heart–the inner essence.

    500 years ago, the Reformation made some changes in the “form” of how church was led by human leaders, but it didn’t go beyond form and transform church into the Spirit-controlled body of Christ with the living Jesus as the Head, the Senior Pastor (“that Great Shepherd of the sheep”). The Greek word used in the New Testament to describe Spirit-directed gatherings of the body of Christ is “ekklesia” (which was the name of the participatory town meeting in Greek cities). Reformation reshapes church a bit. Transformation makes it Spirit-led ekklesia again.

  3. Transformation is permanent. Reformation is temporary. We can only be transformed by the presence of Jesus in our life, giving the Spirit complete control of every aspect of it. That is really the deal breaker for so many of us, including Christians. Giving over complete control, even to Jesus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *