One of the seemingly essential elements of the theology of the Christian life is the claim that, in Christ people are able to be transformed in their existential existence in the world. While most Christians would deny any sort of crude notion of perfectionism, most Christians, even the most strongly reformed ones, would surely maintain that in the Christian life growth and change is in fact a possibility that can be realized.
Now, on one level it is easy to observe certain kinds of changes that do take place in the Christian life. The now-converted promiscuous college student will probably not have insurmountable problems cutting frivolous sexual exploits out of his life and the now-converted lawyer can certainly find a morally acceptable occupation without much existential crisis. However, examples like this are simply examples of behavior modification, not of a true existential experience of personal change. What I’ve noticed is that, for the most part, the things people struggle with in life are pretty much the same things they struggled with all of their lives. So and so may not sleep around anymore, but she still finds a way to idolize romance.
The question that I have then, is simply this: How do people really change? What sorts of events, relationships, practices, encounters, and decisions actually contribute to an existential transformation of people’s mode of existence in the world? What kind of change is actually possible in the Christian life? In short, what kind of transformation of life should we expect over the course of a well-lived Christian life, and where and how do seek after that?