Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Change is on my mind.  More specifically, changed minds.  There's a parable in Matthew 21 that compares two different sons.  One say he's going to do something, but never does it.  The other initially says he won't, but then changes his mind and does it.  God uses this story to illustrate that anyone who wants to have a right relationship with the Father will need to change their mind.

I remember when I was a teenager and had heard this aspect of the Gospel and genuinely questioned what there was to change about myself.  I knew I wasn't perfect, but no one was; and I tried to lead a good life.  By God's grace, I was able to see that God isn't just perfect; He's holy, and I needed Jesus to save me from my natural unholiness that gave me no chance of being in relationship with Him.

Years later, I am thankful to have experienced much transformation through the relationship I have with God. This can look so many ways, but it's always positive and beautiful.  In light of this, I'd like to share a true story about one example of Christ's power to transform in the lives of others who are connected with my sending agency:

There is a native South American group called the Yaghans.  Back in the 1840's a SAMS missionary named Allen Gardiner set out to share the Gospel with them even though they were savage and fierce. In fact, Charles Darwin said that "one can hardly...believe they are fellow creatures and inhabitants of the same world."  After Gardiner and the others died without seeing any success by the world's standards, another young SAMS missionary named Thomas Bridges returned and shared the Gospel with them.  He did this not by mere word, but by action when he chose to forgive the hostile tribe members who had killed his friends.

Unfortunately Allen Gardiner died before being able to share the Gospel or seeing the fruit of his labor.

This time, there was fruit.  The transforming power of Christ shone brightly as the barbarian Yaghans actually put their own lives at risk to help rescue a stranded ship of sailors at sea.  This visible display of transformation of the Yaghans was evident to many.  In fact, Charles Darwin himself became a regular SAMS donor because he was so impressed by the change that had taken place in their hearts and minds!

Perhaps this is one reason that Jesus places such a high value on a changed heart: because of the way that it points others to Him.  And why He commends the heart that is willing to yield and allow Him to change it--even after initial resistance.  I'll end by challenging us all to offer our hearts and minds to Jesus to show us where we may need some kind of change that could free us to be who we were created to be and in doing so, point others to Him.  

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