Tag Archives: Transformation

In Your Midst

Whose invasion would be more dangerous: George Patton or The Body Snatchers?  Full on military assault or silent and subtle takeover, one person at a time?  If you said, George Patton, maybe you haven’t seen The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  The aliens, at first glance, looked just like everybody else. Their invasion was subtle and gradual, not a frontal blitzkrieg.  It was multiplied as each human was mutated and then in turn infected others. Scary business.  Even Donald Sutherland couldn’t hold them back.

I pose the question because Jesus said He would establish His Kingdom on earth, that the Kingdom was at hand, but it’s been 2000 years and nothing much seemed to happen.  Maybe you wonder, “If Jesus came to bring in the Kingdom of God, where is it?   This world is run amuck with murderous morons and merchants of greed.  For many, the world is awash in despair.  If this is His Kingdom, I’m not sure it is very attractive or even safe.”

Jesus faced the same skepticism right from the beginning.  Frustrated under the cruel oppression of the Romans, most of the people expected a George Patton type of Savior.  They wanted Jesus to be a powerful, conquering hero.  When asked how long they would have to wait, Jesus replied:… “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”  (Luke 17:20b-21)

At first glance, you may not realize how widespread and influential the Kingdom has become.  But look closer.  When people were transformed by the body snatchers, they looked the same at first glance, but had become emotionally dead.  The Kingdom of Jesus spreads like that but with the opposite effect.  People who trust Jesus are transformed and suddenly find new life, discovering how dead they had previously been.  Instead of being enslaved by snatchers they are set free in Christ to live an abundant and eternal life.  There’s no cannons, tanks, flags and trumpets, but one by one, as each person comes to and “Aha!” realization of the identity of Jesus, His kingdom expands.

Unfortunately, Christians have, throughout history, attempted to convert people by force (think, the Crusades) and by manipulative human methods.  These have done more harm than good.  But they have not stopped the steady, silent and subtle advance of the real Kingdom.  As Jesus said,

…”The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”  (Matthew 13:33b)

Skinning Your Spiritual Knees

Learning to ride a bike involves skinning a few knees.  Most kids, after successfully riding a few feet without falling, look up and shout, “I can do it! I can do it!”  –  that , just before they dump the thing, trying to avoid the neighbor’s dog.  Dad runs along beside the bike, shouting encouragement, but he cannot actually teach a child how to ride.  He can describe what to do, but balance, the skill that makes bike riding work, has to naturally and gradually emerge from inside the life of the one who is learning.  Balance is built in to their system; they just need to learn how to use it.

Learning to follow Jesus is a lot like that.  Most of us skin our knees repeatedly in the process.  We default to our old habits, which don’t work, and we crash.  It can be discouraging.  So we say things like, “I should be better; I shouldn’t make the same mistake over and over again.”  And the biggie: “Maybe I’m not really a real Christian.”  But remember this:  Christlikeness, like balance, can be described but it cannot be taught.  It does not show up instantly.  It emerges gradually as a natural consequence of the Holy Spirit coming to live in the believer.  That’s why Paul said this:

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.(Philippians 1:4–6 excerpts)

If you have followed Jesus by faith, God is going to make the changes in you. He is not going to be rushed in His work.  He also isn’t going to quit until you are finished.  God doesn’t give up.

So then, if God is going to do the work, what is our part?  Should we just passively wait until He makes us to be like Christ?  Nope.  That would be like waiting for balance to show up before we try to ride a bike.  Our part is to pay careful attention to what God is telling us, climb on this new life and try once again to take it for a spin.  See if we can get further down the road before the next crash.  And don’t sweat the skinned knees.  Paul said it like this:

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  –  (Philippians 2:12b–13).

Quotes: The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). . Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.