How Can You Change?
Hope Weekly 2-17-14
How Can You Change?
In this week's article we are continuing our focus with the theme of our new sermon series, God's Transforming Power. According to N.T. Wright, after we believe in Jesus, God calls each of us to be "transformed" in this life, to cooperate with the Spirit and change our character. Here is Wright, in an article he wrote for Relevant Magazine, called What To Do After You Believe,
James was in his early 20s when it happened. Out of the blue, he met up with an old friend who was on his way to a meeting at a nearby church. James went too, and that very night, to his complete astonishment, his life was turned upside down and inside out.
James was telling me this story because he had now run into a puzzle. He had been attending the church where he’d had that wonderful, life-changing experience. He had learned a lot about God and Jesus. He’d learned a lot, too, about himself. But he found himself now staring at a big question mark.
What am I here for? What happens after you believe ... and before you finally die and go to heaven?
What’s more, James had discovered a puzzle within this question. Many of his new friends lived very strict, self-disciplined lives. They had learned a lot of rules for Christian behavior, primarily from the Bible, and they believed God wanted them to follow those rules. But James couldn’t see how this squared with the basic teaching that God had accepted him as he was, because of Jesus and what He’d done, simply on the basis of faith. If that was so, why should he be bound by all these old rules, some of which seemed, frankly, bizarre?
I was reminded of James when I had an email, just the other day, from a good friend. Many people, he wrote, find it all too easy to get the idea “that one can just believe in Jesus and then really do nothing else.” If we’re not careful, wrote my friend, this opening act of belief can become “simply a matter of assent to a proposition (Jesus is Son of God, etc.), with no need for transformation.”
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