Why do I love and follow Jesus? Because He brings a sure promise of positive change.
I’ve seen Him work in my marriage, my job, and my family, things that are beyond me. I’ve seen Him work in my thoughts and perceptions of the world, my character and personality, things I could and would never have done myself.
In case you missed that, let me say it again a little more clearly: I didn’t do the work or bring about the changes. He did.
It wasn’t that I applied certain Christian principles or precepts and that changed me into a better person and transformed my life. Most churches teach this, and I’ve tried it too out of my own natural inclination, but sadly the results are neither lasting nor truly genuine.
No, the changes that I prayed for – and some that I didn’t even pray for – came progressively as I kept listening and hearing about the goodness of Jesus and what He has done for me, finding rest in His finished work at the cross, and seeing His beauty and grace revealed in all the pages of the Bible.
And as the Bible says, as we with unveiled face [seeing the full glory of His grace without the veil of the law of Moses], beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18, emphasis mine).
Everywhere Jesus went, positive change ensued. We see this most plainly in the gospels. Where there was sin, the sinner was forgiven and set free from bondage. Where there was disease and oppression, the people were healed.
Even where there was death, Jesus brought life and resurrection. It didn’t matter if the death just happened, if the funeral was already in process, or if the dead was well and buried and already decomposing. When Jesus came, the dead remained dead no more!
Everything that came into Jesus’s hands saw increase and multiplication. After Jesus borrowed Simon Peter’s boat in Luke 5 to teach the multitudes on the shore, the boat that had remained empty after a whole night of toiling became exceedingly full with a boat-sinking load of fish! The 5 little loaves and 2 fish that a boy had became multiplied to feed thousands with 12 basketfuls left over! Even multitudes thronged to follow and hear Jesus.
Not once did anyone who came to Jesus bearing a need leave unfulfilled or denied. Though there must have been amongst them those whose lives weren’t perfect and who weren’t particularly godly in character, yet Jesus simply forgave their sins and freely supplied the answers, miracles and breakthroughs they needed.
Jesus didn’t forgive people’s sins simply because He is God and God is gracious and kind. No, His forgiveness of sins came on a righteous and just foundation – He forgave freely knowing that He would Himself take every one of those sins upon the cross and suffer the holy judgement of God’s anger and wrath for them.
Our eternal forgiveness and everlasting righteousness in Christ isn’t because God has gone soft on sin and freely pardons us out of His love and mercy.
It is precisely because God is so holy and just that He cannot lower His standards or gloss over sin, and only His own Son Jesus – God Himself, not our good works – can qualify as a good enough payment, whom God sent to suffer our punishment and death for us out of love.
And because ALL our sins have been fully punished and overpaid in the person of Jesus, God’s holy and just eyes today cannot recognise and judge the same sin twice in us who have accepted Christ. We become forever perfect and righteous in Christ before God. This, is the greatest and most significant positive change that Jesus brings into our lives when we accept Him.
Every other good thing and positive change from God – be it health, healing, wisdom, marital blessings, children, family blessings, career and financial prosperity – comes as a result of this foremost gift.
When the risen Jesus walked with the 2 disciples on the Emmaus road in Luke 24, He expounded and revealed to them the things concerning Himself in the Scriptures, beginning from Moses to the Prophets. And their eyes and understanding were opened, their hearts warmed, and their strength rejuvenated.
Even the Apostle Paul emphasised again and again in all his letters to the church the finished work of Christ and all that Christ has accomplished for believers, before he ever spoke of Christian virtues as a result of realising our true identity. Because Paul knew that knowing Jesus always brings about positive change.
Life isn’t a bed of roses. We may still experience loss, heartaches, and disappointments. But once we bring Jesus into that situation, we can be assured that positive change – restoration, rejoicing after sorrow, and a glorious turn-around – will soon be on the way.
Perhaps you are a Christian and you’re wondering why you aren’t seeing more positive changes in your life. Start bringing Jesus into the centre of your family, your marriage, your work, and start looking for Him and His finished work in your Bible reading.
Perhaps you are a pastor and you’re wondering why you aren’t seeing more positive changes like testimonies and growth in your church. Start bringing Jesus into the centre of your church, not just in the worship but also in the preaching. Jesus finds centre place when He and His finished work – not our efforts and man’s examples – are magnified and glorified.
Bring Jesus into your life. Bring Jesus into your marriage and family. Bring Jesus into your church. He will surely bring positive change.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.