Changed and Transformed
This last week I have ran into more people that think Christianity is merely a set of rules and regulations that people follow and if somehow someone can prove that those rules and regulations are irrelevant or wrong, then Christianity and the Bible is wrong.
This led me to some serious introspection about how we ever got to the point that the argument is about rules and regulations and not about the message of the gospel which is clearly one of having a hope and a future, that people can change, and that there is a power that can only be found in Christ for the lowliest of sinners to become the greatest of saints.
Somehow we have forgotten the power of Christian transformation that is available for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord.
Christian Transformation Was the Ministry of Christ.
Tomorrow I am going to be sharing with my congregation one of the many instances where Jesus took somebody who was born a certain way and transformed him into something else. It is the story found in Mark’s gospel chapter 8 and it goes like this.
Mark 8:22-26 New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus Heals a Blind Man
22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”
Here is an instance where we see a physical healing that transformed a blind mans life. It may be that the man was not born blind, the passage doesn’t say, but regardless he was totally incapable of changing what was. He was blind. There was nothing he could do about it. Yet Jesus transformed his life!
I believe in physically healing, even for today but I do not believe that all healing has to be instantaneous or only done with miraculous means.
In this passage we actually see that even Jesus had to pray for someone more than once before they were healed. If it happened to Jesus then what makes us think that we only have to pray once? Many times healings, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical are progressive and take time.
There is a deeper message in this passage as well. It has to do with the fact that Jesus came to set at liberty those who are captive.
Luke 4:18 New Living Translation (NLT)
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
The principle is that Jesus came to change lives. He can to transform them. He did not come to leave them the same. Somehow this message has been lost!
How Did We Get To the Point That So Many People Forget About the Transforming Power of Jesus?
Christians have the greatest message of hope and power in this world.
We have the message that no person, regardless of who they are or what situation that they have been born into, is not destined to have to stay in that situation.
We have the message of transformation. We have the message of a new creation. We have a message of the sinner set free!
So how did we get to this point of presenting to our world something other than the gospel of Christ?
- We forget that we are sinners saved by grace. Christians, like all mankind are still sinners saved by grace. Unfortunately at times we forget that fact. It is because of our forgetfulness that we start centering on sin instead of the solution to sin which is allowing Christ to transform our lives.
- We allow religion to become more important than relationship. So many of us are creatures of habit. As such, we forget that the power of our faith is not in religion or methods but it is in the our personal relationship with Christ. It is not about how we perform, but in the condition of our heart towards the Lord.
- We transform God into our image rather than allowing God to transform us into His image. I think this above all else has weakened the power of the message of the church in America more than anything else. I noticed it happening in the 1980’s when the Charismatic movement was hijacked by the prosperity gospel. Instead of God being the one who changes us, we became the ones who dictated what God would or would not do. No longer is the message of transformation taught, but instead the message is what we can get out of God.
Why is Christian transformation so important?
Jesus took fishermen, zealots, tax collectors, and prostitutes and changed them into people who rose up and changed their world with a message of transformation.
Christian transformation is so important because without it we are just another of a wide variety of religions. We have no power. It is because of the promise that if a person is in Christ, they will become a new creation, that makes the Christian message so different.
It is not about man trying to be good. It is about God coming to live inside of man and that because of that reality, the man is changed from the inside out.
This message is the message that needs to be given to the alcoholics, the drug addicted, the porn addicted, and the gays and lesbians. They may have been born with a penchant to do such things but they do not have to stay that way. There is a way out.
There is no such thing as inevitability when in comes to the transforming power of Jesus.
When the church once again preaches the message of the cross and the power of the resurrection, then we have the real answer to the ills of this world.
Instead of being against something, we will be for something. We will be for changed and transformed lives!
Now that is something to think about!