Then there's 1 Thessalonians 4:1, “Finally, brother and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus Christ that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God…you should do so more and more.” Or consider 2 Thessalonians 1: 3, “We must always give thanks to God for you…because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of you for everyone is increasing.” The story of Moses is the story of a murderer who became a model leader. The story of David is the story of a boy who became a king. The story of Ruth is the story of an outsider who became a model of faith.
There’s a pop Christian theology that is the opposite of triumphalism (the idea that I can be perfect in this life); and that is Christian apathy; the idea that Christians should be blasé about sin; and content with being just forgiven. John Ortberg asks us to imagine an alcoholic welcomed at an AA meeting like this, “We’re so glad you’re here. We want you to know that you are loved and forgiven through nothing you have done. Of course, don’t expect to change too much. Don’t expect to actually stop drinking. We don’t like it when people suggest sobriety is possible. We believe that trying not to drink breeds arrogance and self-sufficiency. Our motto is, ‘12 steppers are not sober, just forgiven’" (Leadership, Spring 2009). The whole point of AA was to re-capture classic spiritual practices and to bring deliverance from a spiritual power that was destroying their lives. Let’s take a moment now to consider how that deliverance from evil begins -- and real change happens according to Scripture and 2000 years of experience.
First, real personal change starts with a grace-filled community. When Jesus set out to announce the good news of the kingdom of God he began with twelve rag tag disciples. Mark 3:14 says that “Jesus appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him and to be sent out to proclaim the message.” He called Matthew, a tax collector (a Roman collaborater); he called Simon the Zealot (a left-wing revolutionary); he called Judas his betrayer, he called ordinary and untutored fishermen, he called a doubter like Thomas, and a hothead like Peter. He called them all (warts and all) and he called them to be with him… with each other, to share their lives together and to learn from him in the context of a close-knit fellowship, a Lifegroup in which we are experiencing the transforming grace and mercy of God.
One of Michael Jackson's most popular songs was “Man in the Mirror” – a song about changing the world by changing and growing yourself as a person. Here's the refrain of that song...
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change"