Another gem I gained from my recent breakfast with Jason was the reason why we will be transformed at Christ’s return. Check out 1 John 3:1-3:
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (ESV – emphasis mine)
Man, that is powerful! Why will we be transformed to be like Christ? Because we will see him as he IS! In his majesty and glory and greatness and power! The thing about that is that the same is true of every person RIGHT NOW! If we were to see God for who he is, we would be instantly and truly transformed. And the more we seek after him – to know him better and more deeply, the more we will be transformed.
A Bible study leader last night referenced a similar passage in 1 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)
Again, transformation comes directly from seeing God! Breathtaking.
Unfortunately, there is a flip side to the absolute glory in this truth, and that is that upon entering into his presence, which according to the biblical record, everyone will at death, EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess Jesus as Lord. The devastatingly tragic part is that it will not be until then that those who did not follow him in this lifetime will recognize Jesus as Lord of all, but also that they chose to ignore that fact on Earth, making them enemies of the Omnipotent. That is sobering, scary even. And if you’re reading this and in that position, I beg of you to consider Jesus, the Savior.
I was blessed to have breakfast with my pastor and friend, Jason Wolin, this morning. I was hugely encouraged by him, as always, and wanted to share with you and record for myself this loose quote:
In terms of pursuit, my relationship with God is just like my relationship with my wife. I don’t have to buy her flowers or give her a back rub today, but I do have to pursue her. It’s the same way with God – outlining a specific action that must be done in a specific time frame quickly heads down the path of legalism, but I must be pursuing Him in some way.
He said it much more eloquently, of course, but I had neither my laptop nor a recorder with me at Cracker Barrel. I hope I at least conveyed the idea without introducing anything wrong. What I took away from it is that a question I can ask at any given time is “how am I pursuing God right now?“ And that gets at the heart of the matter for me much more quickly than “did I read my chapter today?“
If you’re like me, you grew up in the church. You learned Christianese as your second language, you have the “good kid” routine down to a science, and somewhere along the line, you displaced heart with action. This wasn’t something that happened overnight and it wasn’t even necessarily intentional or malicious – you may have just had the desire to be close to God, saw other folks who were, and rather than develop an intimate relationship with Him, just started acting like they did, hoping one day you would arrive on the same plane.
Well as we now know, it just doesn’t work that way – action apart from heart is meaningless, and in this case, quite harmful. The dilemma, though, is that we now have these negative habits and motivations ingrained. These suckers hold on, too. And in my experience, change starts not by sitting there and muttering “no, no, no”, but by marinating in the sweet basic truths of the gospel.
To that end, a friend just directed me to an incredible article that I would recommend to you, as well. Come with me as we toss the guilt of our sin aside, rest in Jesus’ work on the cross, and live radically committed lives for Him as a result.
From his book, Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions, Craig Blomberg concludes his chapter on Jesus’ teaching in the synoptic gospels with the following (from pgs. 145-6). It would do you well to read it slowly, thoughtfully, and personally.
It goes too far to say that one cannot be rich and be a disciple of Jesus, but what never appears in the Gospels are well-to-do followers of Jesus who are not simultaneously generous in almsgiving and in divesting themselves of surplus wealth for the sake of those in need. ‘This free attitude to possessions may be expressed in a disposal of private property, though this is not mandatory. It will certainly find expression in an almost reckless generosity, motivated not by a dour sense of obligation but by a warm and unselfish compassion’ (France 1979:18). There is room for the periodic celebration of God’s good, material gifts, even at times to a lavish extent. But these celebrations will be the exception, not the norm. The covenant model that assumes material reward for piety never reappears in Jesus’ teaching, and is explicitly contradicted throughout. As in Proverbs 30:8-9, Jesus is concerned to moderate extremes. But the main focus of his ministry, the road to the cross, and this call to disciples to imitate him in similar self-denying sacrifice rather than basking in glory, suggests the overarching paradigm of generous giving, rather than ‘godly materialism’, for the one who would faithfully follow Christ.
I can't say it better, so here's a convicting and moving excerpt from John Piper's message at the 2008 T4G conference (catch the MP3s if you get a chance):
My desire and my prayer for you is that your life and your ministry will have a radical flavor. And I say this for the glory of Christ - the world is not going to glorify Christ because they see that Christians are wealthy and healthy and prosperous.
Very simple reason why - that's what they live for! So you use Jesus to get it? They use other means to get it. They're not impressed. Jesus is the ticket. When the show starts, you throw the ticket away. They don't need your ticket - they're not impressed. I'm saying what I'm saying because I want them to be impressed. They're not impressed with us - prosperous, wealthy, safe, middle-class, do-what-everybody-else-does people. Don't build a church like that! Don't go there - don't spend your life like that. It will be wasted. You will have lived it.
My desire in prayer for you is that your life has a radical flavor. Some extraordinary love - something risky - some crazy sacrifice that nobody can understand, including mom - something salty and bright.
In case you missed it, or are otherwise looking for the Good Friday and Easter designs I put together this year, now you have them.
He is risen!