Thursday, March 17, 2016

conformed or transformed?

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

The beautiful picture of the last day of Jesus’ life highlights what His entire life looked like.  Many different books and movies have dramatized those hours.  My favorite is in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ when Jesus walked out of the tomb, yet it is often the responses Jesus had that give me lessons to learn and to live by.

Jesus told His disciples to stick together, to own their shortcomings and not to fight for what is self-serving.  Remember what happened when Peter cut off the ear one of the men trying to arrest Him.  Remember when the taunts and mocking of the people around the cross turned to Jesus’s words to His father of forgiveness.  Remember the compassion of standing with Thomas and allowing this doubtful disciple to touch His wounds.

It is the grace Jesus showed that gave people a chance to step back and make adjustments in their lives.  Are there adjustments we need to make so we will look more like Jesus or so others want to know our God?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Be careful how you think.  We often do allow the thoughts or leanings of the world to change our thinking.  There is nothing tougher or more troubling than when we allow ourselves to focus on the wrong things.

God is in the business of changing our actions, our words and even our thinking.  What are the characteristics of the person who is seeking God and allowing Him to transform their lives?

The wrong way is evident:

Psalm 5:9  NLT
My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery.

But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Go with that thought for a few verses:

Jude 1:23  NLt
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

The Golden Rule I have heard since I was very young as the verse above says, and here is another version of it:

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Take a full look at Easter.  Jesus responded to people the way that He expects us to respond to people.  That is the way of grace, love and forgiveness.  He didn’t push away the pain or even down His accusers.  Easter is full of reminders of new life, of refreshing and of giving power to others as the presence of God fills our lives.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

May our lives reflect the character of Christ.  The last day of Jesus’ life was something like a magnifying glass of what our lives can look like when we are transformed by the endless grace of our loving God.

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