The butterfly can just look back
Flap those wings and say Oh, yeah
I never have to be a worm again
– Like a Skin by Sara Groves
from the album, The Other Side of Something
Captured by the idea that I can be made into a better person, I decided to follow Jesus some years ago. And while it’s been an amazing journey, there are days when I begin to wonder and even doubt how transformed I really am. Habits and patterns of thinking I have sworn off end up making sport of my resolutions. Self-centeredness takes center stage, and despite working so hard, I can’t seem to cut bitterness at its root.
The question I’ve been wrestling with these days is,
So What is the difference?
I prayed a prayer, I invited Jesus in my life, but underneath the surface am I really changed?
Searching the scriptures for a place to stand on, I found it interesting that letters the apostles wrote to the early church addressed issues of immorality, greed, pride and even strife within the body.
Apparently, even for the early church, metamorphosis was an uphill battle.
Even though they evidently struggled, they insisted that the death and resurrection of Jesus the Savior had transformed them in a totally profound way. And it wasn’t so much about the issue of what they did and didn’t do—even if that was important. It was more about who they were as God viewed them; their identity.
The apostle Paul, describing how God saw us in the past, tells us that:
We were alienated from God, and considered his enemies.
So, let’s just say, we didn’t exactly put a smile on God face. As a matter of fact far from it, we incited his terror. (Ephesians 2:3)
And If this perfect and all powerful God is truly the one who breathed the galaxies into being, I’m not so sure “objects of his wrath ” is a good state to be in.
However, before you can even dwell on the gloom and doom, this amazing verse immediately follows.
But now, through his death, Christ has reconciled you to God,
you are without blemish and are free from accusation.
You see, the promise of our own transformation hinges primarily on the fact that, through Jesus, God has changed the lens by which he views us.
To frame it differently,
We are changed because God sees us differently.
And when God sees us, it is not anymore with a look of irritation, or disappointment, or disdain, but that of compassion and love.
A thousand years before the time of Jesus, God, through the prophet Isaiah, foretold what would happen as a result of the Messiahs suffering and death:
In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord your Redeemer.
Isaiah 54: 8
In the old testament, Moses who was known as the friend of God, asked God to see his glory. God replied, there’s no way you can see my face and live. An imperfect human simply can’t behold the face of someone so holy as God; we would be consumed. But God decides to honor Moses’ request to a certain degree. God encloses Moses in the cleft of a rock and asks Moses to only take a glimpse at God’s back. Because that is all Moses—the friend of God—could have handled
And yet, when Moses asks the priests to bless the people, he left them with this priestly blessing.
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you
The Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace
How could it ever be that the face of God be ever turned towards sinners. All Moses got was God’s back and that almost killed him. We would have to be perfect for God’s countenance to be lifted towards us.
Exactly! That’s what the scriptures have been trying to tell us all along. It doesn’t mean there won’t be days when we will all be doubting if anything has changed, or the fact that we may sometimes feel impatient about the slow work of redemption. The one thing you and I need to know is that, in Christ, God sees us as perfect.
Apparently, God has an extremely high view of us.
All that is left for us to do is to find ways to open ourselves to God so he can lead our journey to become the WHO we already are.
- Can you relate to struggling with habits or patterns of behavior that you have sworn off, yet find yourself still falling into them from time to time? What do you feel each time you fall?
- Think about the verse Isaiah 54:8; how do you feel about the idea that God’s face is not hidden from you—and that he sees you with everlasting kindness and compassion?
- What is the one you thing you should immediately do that allows yourself to open up to God, so you can become the person, he knows you to be?