I was sitting in church the other day and there is a special guest speaker, Kelly Green. He started talking about how his life has changed since he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and savior.
Kelly was sharing his story which included a life full of worldly vices and a dysfunctional family structure. He knew about “god” but he didn’t see a difference in his godly friends and his non-godly friends. He didn’t see the difference between being a Lutheran, Mormon, Catholic and non-religious. Everyone seemed to be living the same life.
It wasn’t until a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that his life begins to change. Now he travels the world preaching and sharing God’s saving love with anyone who is willing to listen to his story.
We have all heard many stories like this. Countless stories of a person living a life full of sin and then finding the redemptive grace of Jesus Christ.
The story of a radical transformation by the grace of God.
Near the end of his time, he asked a simple question to those of us who called ourselves Christians in the congregation, “What’s different about your life?”
I got stuck on that question and I still cannot get past it.
What if a person was sitting across the room from you doing nothing but watching and taking notes? If someone looked at your phone as they walked by? Heard the music you were listening to as you drove by? If someone was listening to your conversations with your friends or coworkers?
Would they be able to say that you are a Christian? Could you put on a solid, award-winning “Christian” performance? I probably could, if I’m honest.
What if there was a way for someone to hear the thoughts you had in your head or see exactly what you see throughout the day? What if someone was a fly on the wall of your room when you are by yourself?
Would you still win the award for “Best Actor/Actress Living A Christian Life”?
While thinking about that question Kelly asked, I began to think about what Paul wrote in Romans.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. | Romans 6:1-6 (NLT)
Paul was writing to the church in Rome. Sin was running rampant throughout Rome for both believers and non-believers. Many Christians had the mindset that they could continue to live in sin because they could simply ask God for more forgiveness and more grace.
“That’s absurd! Why would they think that! I am so much better than they are…”
Before you get too proud and start calling out the early church for believing in such a crazy idea, think about yourself for a second. You might find that we are not much better than they were. (That whole check the log in your eye first before removing the speck of dust in someone else’s eye. Matthew 7:5)
We continually, and often times, knowingly, fall back to our sinful ways even though we know better, just like the early church.
Yet, we have been given a second and third and fourth and fifth chances. Talk about grace.
There is this idea that Paul touches on in verse 6. The idea of the OLD SELF and the NEW SELF. When Christ comes into your life, He begins to work on your heart. Change happens and we begin to become different.
When we surrender ourselves to Christ, we are choosing to die to the world, to ourselves and to sin. That means that person, the old version of who you used to be, is gone… for good. Sin and all. We begin to build our new identity in Christ. This new self is free from sin. Paul says that we are “no longer enslaved”.
We are different. You are different.
You and I should strive every day to continue to build on our new identities, free from sin. We should live in a way that any random person notices and thinks, there is something different about us.
Something they want… something from deep inside them… something they desire above all else…
That something different is the love of God. That’s what they want.
Peace and Grace.