Recently, I overheard a conversation between some farmers and a scientist who works to develop new varieties of agricultural plants. The scientist described how plant geneticists had mapped out the genes in the DNA of many important agricultural crops. They’ve also developed the capability to turn some genes “on” so the plants can be more resistant to things like drought or disease. They can even replace some genes with desirable genes from other plant species (sometimes called a genetic transformation) to form a genetically modified organism (GMO) with traits such as the ability to tolerate herbicides that usually kill all plants or to produce natural insecticides or to produce critical vitamins. You may have heard about golden rice, which has higher vitamin A content in the grain. In developing countries where rice is the staple, this could help protect the immune system and eyesight of the 40% of children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency. That was beyond our imagination 50 years ago.
Anyway, during the conversation, I looked at one of the farmers and said, “We need them to develop a live-forever gene.” Then it occurred to me that God has already done that for us and there are some similarities between genes inserted into plants to give them additional beneficial properties and the Holy Spirit God instills in us when we become his children (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Romans 8: 9-11, 14-16).
First, we’re to become transformed into the likeness of God. This doesn’t mean we’ll start looking like him physically, although that could eventually take place (1 John 3: 1-3). By inserting his spirit into our lives, God has given us the ability to transform our minds to become more like him – to participate in his divine nature (1 Corinthians 2: 11-16; 2 Peter 1: 3, 4; Colossians 3: 5-11). This transformation only comes by the renewing of our minds after the Holy Spirit is sent into our hearts because we’ve offered ourselves to God as living sacrifices through baptism (Romans 12: 1, 2; 6: 3-11; 2 Corinthians 3: 17, 18). Without the spirit, the transformation to become God’s children cannot take place (Romans 8: 5-8; Galatians 5: 22-25). God makes the transformation in us as we allow him to do the work (Philippians 2: 12-16; Ephesians 3: 20, 21). With the spirit, we become God’s made-over (GMO) children, which may seem beyond our imagination, but God can do anything good (Luke 1: 34-38, for example). Even if you haven’t personally experienced this transformation, surely you’ve seen it happen in others, like the change in Ebenezer Scrooge, or Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10), or the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 1: 12-17; Acts 22: 6-16; Romans 10: 9-13). You can become a GMO child as well simply by putting your life in God’s hands and letting him do the work (Isaiah 64: 8; 2 Corinthians 4: 7; 5: 17). This promise is available to everyone (Acts 2: 38, 39).
Wouldn’t that be a great way to start off the New Year?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at: email@example.com