We stand for TRANSFORMED LIVES. // Part 1
Our leadership team recently finished a study on values for Mt Olive and they were presented at our congregational assembly last February.
The more we solidify our course around these values, the more unified we become as a body of Christ and the more influential we will be in our community as a dynamic force for good - for the sake of sharing the gospel.
We stand for TRANSFORMED LIVES.
Everything we do at Mount Olive encourages and supports a transformed life. The gospel changes us, giving us a new identity and purpose for our lives. As followers of Jesus, and through the power of his Spirit, we continually grow in our knowledge and relationship with him, always shifting our approach to living in order to bring him glory.
Our topic for consideration this week is . . . how to become a transformed follower of Jesus. Step one, know what transformed means. Transformation means a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
Do you remember when Jesus’ disciple Peter cowered in front of the servant girl as Jesus was on trial? She brought up his connection with Jesus; and Peter vehemently denied any association with Jesus. He was not willing to put his life on the line for his friend, his Savior. Despite his arrogant and boastful comments several hours before when Jesus told him he would waiver, the quip by this little girl made Peter an unstable and untrustworthy friend, a denier, a coward, a shell that was cracked and oozing with all the internal struggles that plague real people. What Peter did, I would have done. Can Peter change? Can I change?
Then 52 days later, on the feast of Pentecost, Peter dropped the cloak of cowardice and made an uncharacteristic, bold confession of his relationship to Jesus. What happened? He did this in front of a crowd of 100’s and 1000’s of Jesus-killing Jews (some of whom had been responsible for literally putting Jesus to death.) Again, I have to ask, “what happened?” How can 52 days so completely transform one individual? Could something happen inside of me to change me? How can I also be transformed?
Another scenario: look at the attention-getting dent that a very infant group of believers at Pentecost caused in the minds and hearts of onlookers:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. // Acts 2:42-47
Instead of metered, religious necessity there was a hearty and willing devotion to the teachings being presented by the apostles. It was not about “have to” but had become “I want to.”
They were no longer hiding themselves from others, trying to protect their own space; they now became impassioned and devoted to having a shared life with other believers.
This devotion extended to worship - they couldn’t get enough of the Lord’s Supper and prayer time.
Onlookers saw this and were filled with awe or even fear in relation to miracles that were being performed.
There was unity in their diversity. The liberal Jews were chumming it up with the conservative Jews. The women and the men, the young and the old were celebrating Jesus together - that had not been the case previously.
The unity was so thick that they shared their possessions with other believers as if they were part of their own family. No longer was it “my stuff.” Now it became more about caring and helping, even if it inconvenienced them. That’s stunning!
They even went so far as to sell their stuff and use the proceeds to take care of anyone who was lacking. When do you see that happening today? Today, as in most cases, we look to using our excess to help others. They went deeper and further. What changed? How did it change?
Each day they met together. We get together often, but could you imagine being together daily?
They ate meals with each other - “hey, let’s do lunch.” “Do you want to come over for a meal with my family?” There was a real hunger to be together. This wasn’t forced - it was real. They wanted to be together.
And this kindness extended outside the walls of their fellowship to “all the people.” If you ran into a Jesus-follower, their good attitude remained as they talked and initiated conversation with you. Their kindness rubbed off onto everyone with whom they met. You felt more accepted by them than by your own family and friends. What gives?
None of this was based on schedule evaluations or budgeting or delivering excess dollars in order to appease a conscience. They were not trying to fit in one extra thing on their weekly calendar - they dove in head first. There was no obligation, there was no colliding or jostling for position. Each genuinely cared more for the other person than themselves. Have you ever seen this before?
In my most eye-opening experience as a young believer (20-something), I met and gathered with other Christians who really wanted to spend time with me. This experience had nothing to do with me but had everything to do with Jesus inside of them, living through them, empowering them, transforming them. Would you like to see that lived out?
Where are you right now in your faith journey? Where would you like to be? Jesus has no desire to let his disciples remain in status quo mode. Jesus say in John 15:4, ”Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
“Bearing fruit” equals transformation. People will start to see that there is a power in you, a beyond-natural-ability-type power that causes you to do, think, and say what you are unable to do, think, and say on your own.
Next week I will go a little further with this topic and explore the “how” of transformation. Until then, let Jesus’ own words trickle through your daily thoughts. Let his vision for your future become real and bold. Stay connected to him. Jesus, living in you, will transform you into bigger, bolder, better.