Both of our texts for this week (John 3:14-21 and Ephesians 2:1-10) can be summarizd in similar ways.
Ephesians looks like this:
Grace/Gift= new creation = good works as way of life.
John 3 looks like this:
Grace/Gift = salvation/eternal life = deeds done in God.
And both of those look remarkably like our church vision statement: Being transformed by God to Transform the World.
So, my question this week is, Is our vision statement an accurate reflection of reality, or of our wishes and hopes? Are we being transformed? And if so, how? In what ways?
Our two passages both suggest it is a gift from God. So does that mean that we as humans have no say in our own transformation? What role do we play in our ongoing transformation?
I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself, and let this be my testimony. But I feel like I am being transformed in the present, that the tectonic plates of my soul are shifting inside me. I see this too in the life of our congregation.
Given this testimony, its too easy to say that I’m on the side of the new creation and of the saved, and to assume the judgment bits of our texts refer to an entirely different category of people. But maybe this isn’t quite the case. Maybe we’re always a mix of both good and bad, light and shadow, redeemed and in need of redemption.
Maybe that’s what John 3:20 means, when he says people do not want to come to Jesus because they don’t want their deeds exposed. Is that just for non-Christians, or do we all struggle with our secrets? DO we all have rooms in our hearts we don’t let anyone into? Sunday night at the Anabaptist Learning Seminar we talked about checking certain parts of our lives at the door (namely, sexuality). Is that what Jesus means here? That even those of us who are redeemed have parts of our lives we don’t want exposed?
Along the same lines, noted Black pastor/author/civil rights leader Howard Thurman prayed the following prayer:
My ego is like a fortress.
I have built its walls
stone by stone
to hold out the invasion
of the love of God.
Michael Casey, Orthodox pastor/author says, “There is much within us that is resistant to God’s love… too often we are overwhelmed by the negative inertia of our Un-evangelized zones.”
If Thurman and Casey, two respected Christians from quite different Christian communities, both experience blocks to God’s love in their already converted hearts,
Does it make sense to talk about those things in our own already-converted hearts & minds that are resistant to God’s love? If so, what blocks us from being transformed? What form does your resistance to God’s love take?
How might you/we go about removing those blocks you’ve identified, so we can nurture the transformation already at work in our lives?