Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How Big a Transformation? - Henry Knapp

It probably will not surprise many of you to hear that I grew up as an awkward, geeky kind of kid. Self-conscious, nerdy, a bit immature, high school was not a terrific experience for me. Then, when someone suggested that in college I could remake myself, I was excited to be transformed into a different kind of person—from “caterpillar to butterfly,” I thought! And so, at college, I was… well… just slightly less awkward, geeky, and self-conscious. Yes, I guess, some “transformation” took place when I graduated from high school to college, but probably not as much as I would have wished.

I have witnessed many transformations during my lifetime. Changing jobs for most folks involves some minor form of alteration. Additions (and subtractions) in the family requires everyone to be changed in some degree. Moving, new experiences, growing relationships, changed circumstances… all involve a transformation—of character, of conduct, of purpose.

Of course, the bigger the change, the more difficult, and more impressive, the transformation. A good friend of mine went from being a small-company engineer, to an engineer in a larger company, to a high school teacher, to a missionary overseas. Each change more difficult than the last, each more impressive.

Some transformations are simply beyond us. Some changes simply are not possible, no matter the human desire, skill, or effort. No human, no matter how talented or determined, can transform a stone into flesh, evil into good, the dead into life.

But, this is exactly the transformation accomplished by Jesus Christ in the heart of every believer. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, He has taken that which is lifeless, empty, wicked in His sight, and redeemed us, making us new creations, regenerated by the Spirit. Those who call on the name of Jesus are born again—not in some weirdo way, but truly transformed from that which is rejected by God to that which is loved by Him—from death to life. Now, that is a truly amazing transformation!

How much we appreciate this transformation, how impressed we are by it, depends on how significant we think the change is. If we view our sin as nothing more than a minor hindrance to our enjoyment of life, then the transformation we have in Christ is not that big a deal; and, consequently, Christ is not that big a deal—God removes a small problem, He does us a small favor. But, if we view our sin as not just hindering us or making us sick, but as that which makes us dead in God’s eyes, then the transformation from death to life is nothing short of a divine miracle—and He deserves all the praise we can offer and a life lived for Him.

Inexpressible joy! For the magnitude of the transformed life! All possible through the work of the Incomparable Christ!

As we prepare to worship our Lord together on Sunday, you might want to read through Colossians 1:21-23.

1. What is the connection between these verses and the preceding ones?  How does “the supremacy of Christ” shape these verses?

2. What does “alienated,” “hostile,” and “doing evil” look like? Do you think of yourself that way? Do you think of non-Christians that way? Why, why not?

3. According to verse 22, we are “reconciled in His body of flesh by His death.” Why do you think it is phrased that way?

4. What would it look like to be “above reproach” in God’s sight?

5. Can you think of an example of someone who fits well the first part of verse 23? Someone who is “stable and steadfast”? “Not shifting from the hope of the Gospel?”

6. Notice the universal claim of the Gospel at the end of verse 23. Why do you think that is so very important to Paul? How can we capture that same importance today?

See you Sunday!