Monday, August 29, 2011

The Gospel of Jesus-Begin Again or Change?

Is the invitation of Jesus to live a new life a call to change the life we already have? Is Jesus’ calling us to begin again or make significant adaptations with His help? Is discipleship a perfecting of the imperfect in us or is it the living from a perfect life that is put in us? Do we ask people who are living such complex and sinful lives to focus on changing those lives with church intervention or to begin living an entirely new life in Jesus?

These questions take us right to the heart of a debate that has tormented the church of Jesus since Paul confronted the false teachers in the Galatian church when he said “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel-which is really no gospel at all.” Gal. 1:6-7a

Change your lifestyle and way of living with my church’s help is not the message of Jesus. The message of Jesus is begin again by living my life, not yours. In other words, forget change that never works and embrace Me the One who never fails.

As hard as it is for us to accept, men and women cannot change on a level that God can accept as sufficient for true, loving humanity to appear and be sustained. To tell a person that they can change or adapt the way they live for God’s acceptance is to preach another Gospel. To tell them that they can begin again in Jesus is the true Gospel. God is starting in Jesus a new, living humanity not a changed, somewhat improved humanity.

Jesus told Nicodemos in John 3 that nothing short of a new birth would allow him to see or enter the kingdom of God. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that nothing short of another living source of water and inner life would satisfy here and allow her to begin again. Jesus said in John 15 that we could do nothing without Him and that includes living a fruitful life that God wants of us.

The language of Jesus and of the New Testament is not change language. It is begin again language. It is leaving the Kingdom of darkness and going into the Kingdom of Light. It is leaving death and entering life. It is crucified with Christ to begin living Christ.

It is common to be asked here in Brazil, “Do you think a homosexual can change?” Just yesterday I was asked this question. This question is asked by sincere and not so sincere people. My answer is “Christianity is not about changing the homosexual or about changing anyone. No plan for change can help any of us if our goal is to be what God wants us to be. Our problem is beyond change. Christianity is about living a new life- Jesus’ life-now and forever. It is about a constant cooperation with that perfect life of Jesus in us that lets Jesus manifest Himself through us. Anyone who wants to begin again in Jesus is welcome to live Jesus and that includes the homosexual and me.”

Selling change is religion and it is big business. People who market change as Jesus’ message get rich because they are offering something that never ends and in the end never works. Making people dependent is big business. Just ask drug dealers. Paul said that these types of people have a god. Their “belly” or their own interests are their god.

People who offer a new beginning from the perfect source that is Jesus in us will soon not be needed by those who begin to live Jesus. So much for creating dependence that feeds the religious! Pointing people to new life instead of never ending change doesn’t make for a great financial plan but it sure makes us more like Jesus and the apostles. None of them ended up rich, but they still have living influence 2000 years later. Take your pick-- Change sells or Jesus lives?

People can’t be reached by change because the problem is too deep for change to reach. Imagine you found you needed a bone marrow transplant. No amount of exercise, medicine or activity can reach the marrow level. So it is with what we need spiritually. We need new, eternal spiritual marrow. We need a spirit to Spirit marrow connection with Jesus in order to begin again.

The good news is that once the Spiritual marrow transplant takes place when we receive what God is willing to give us in His Son, we just need to increasingly cooperate with this new spiritual, eternal marrow since it is the same spiritual marrow that Jesus gave at Calvary to save us all.

Only when we abandon change as the goal will certain Bible verses begin to make sense. These verses are “transplant” verses not “religious change” verses.

“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: whichis Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27

“For to me to live is Christ.” Phil. 1:21

“It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20

“Christ is all and is in all” Col. 3:11

Humanity is beyond the need for change no matter how well it sells. Humanity needs the life of Jesus in us by the Spirit of God. Don’t tell people they can change. Tell them they can live Jesus. In Him all things become new not changed.

Bud McCord
Abide International

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