"Who We Are: The Transformed"
As we walk through several passages, we see that Christians are transformed people. The world sees the before/ after effect of Jesus upon us and they don’t understand. Why are you so peculiar?
Who We Are: Transformed
(1 Pet. 4:1-5)
A. Every year for many years, Sarah and I have read aloud A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The classic story has touched the lives of people ever since it was published in December of 1843. It is the story of the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge with the help of the spirits of Christmas past, present and future.
B. Many love that story because of the transformation that takes place. To see a man who started as an emotionally hurting young boy, working hard to become financially successful and then making money his god is not an unfamiliar story to many over the years. We let finances lead our life and dictate how we treat others. It is the very end of the book that makes us love this story. After all that he sees and experiences, Scrooge realizes that his life not only is lacking, but is in need of true love and relationships.
C. His change is so great that Dickens writes, “Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing every happening on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset…”
D. This morning, as we wrap up this series on “Who We Are” I want us to see that we are transformed people. When we use words like “change” and “transformation” we get caught up in what we do to make ourselves better, but I want to challenge and tweak that idea. Because real change or transformation begins and ends with Jesus in us.
I. Transformation is a New Life, not a New Leaf
A. For some, a new year, or tomorrow, is the time in which we are going to turn over a new leaf and start doing what we should and stop doing what we shouldn’t. But Christianity is not about waiting for some special day and it’s not as much about my power as it is about a new life.
B. Listen again to our text in 1 Pet. 4:1-2. There is a calling from Peter to think about life the same way Jesus thought about life. That way of thinking can cause us to face some trials and suffering in this world. The changes that have come upon us cause others to dislike the new me.
C. In just a few verses earlier, Peter talked about the saving action that is seen when we are baptized. He reminded them that their baptism was not simply a washing of the body, but “an appeal to God for a good conscience.” What that phrase is translated in several ways, the idea behind it is that our baptism is an answer to the question of where our salvation come from – not me, but Jesus and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, transforms me from spiritually dead to spiritually alive. Or as Jesus says to Nicodemus, “to be born again.”
D. Paul says, that if anyone is in Christ, “he is a new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17). Tim Keller said: “Religion says, ‘I obey; therefore I am accepted.’ Christianity says, ‘I’m accepted, therefore I obey.’” Our acceptance before God and subsequent change in this body is the work of Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. Everything else leads to exasperation. Trying to “turn over a new leaf” is a temporary fix to an eternal problem. And it leads to the frustrating, exasperating cycle of always looking for a new fix to our lives.
E. You see, the transformation that Peter is talking about in chapter four, is not simply me changing me, but Jesus living through me. A “new leaf” is often external; “transformation” is internal. Not in our perfection, but that good conscience, that “same way of thinking” that we hear Peter talking about. It really leads us into the next point.
II. Transformation is a Process, not a Destination
A. Many years before Charles Dickens penned those words, God inspired Peter to pen these (1 Pet. 4:4). When a person makes an outward change that is dramatic, there are many people who simply refuse to believe it’s true, or wish it wasn’t. They either like the old person who knew how to party well, or they mock the new person who lives the transformed life that God created them to live.
B. But as soon as a new Christian sins many of their former friends quickly call them a hypocrite. And you know what? They are right. Christians are hypocrites. We profess the perfection of Jesus, and then fail to live the perfection before God and man. Sometimes, a new Christian feels such guilt at their own imperfection that they quit the race and turn back to their old way of life.
C. Listen to Peter (READ 1 Pet. 4:7-11). No one ever gets to the place of being all that God has called them to be on this side of eternity. Transformation is the process that continues on until the day we leave this body and our spirit sees and becomes the fullness of what God has done for us. It is process, it is growth, is pressing forward and straining to the prize for which God has called us.
A. Transformation is the process in which we learn to let go of the things that hinder us and hold on to the things the help us. If I refuse to change I simply choose to pick a rut in which I want to live. But that is not good enough for me.
B. It is hard for me to hear Paul speak about himself as the greatest of sinners, but that is exactly what he does. Listen to what he says to Timothy (READ 1 Tim. 1:15-16).
C. Paul wasn’t beating himself up and telling Timothy he was a bad person. Paul simply saw what Jesus had done in him, the transformation was so great that as far as Paul was concerned, Jesus saved him to show anyone that they too can be saved.
D. Transformation is a new life and process that keeps on working in me. While I am saved the moment my sin is washed away, God’s power of change keeps on working in me as I grow in Him. How about you? Are you in this process of transformation? Are you seeing God at work in you? Then praise him. But if you are in need of help in the process, then come as we stand and sing.
**Main points come from a sermon by Ed Stetzer**
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister