True, Transformative Change
I had a friend in high school named Isaac. Now Isaac was really funny. He was intelligent. He was charismatic. And he was well liked by everybody. Now Isaac and I were not really close, but we got along really well. We were in a lot of group projects together, and we were part of the same friend group. And he even came over to my house a couple of times. On October 23, 2018, my friend Isaac Jetmore was killed in a motorcycle accident. He had just bought a motorcycle. It was his first day riding it to school and was riding home when a pickup truck rolled through an intersection, hit him and killed him.
The day after his death, the day after his accident, is the day that I'm not likely to forget. I remember it was very chaotic. It was very painful as we tried to process the death of my friend. And I also remember that there were three distinct reactions to his death. There are those who were very calloused and indifferent; like the one kid who, after seeing everybody crying and realizing that classes were going to be over, raised his hand and said, “So I guess this means we have free time now, huh?” Then went back to playing games on a Nintendo Switch. And then there were those who were very visibly impacted by the death of Isaac. They were crying. They were comforting each other. And they were saying things like, “You know what? This changes my perspective. This really puts everything in perspective. I need to start making some life changes.” But if you were to follow up with them, you know towards the end of the school year, around graduation, there is no evidence of any change. Because the memory of Isaac Jetmore had just faded. And life continued on as regular. And then there are those who are deeply impacted by his death. And I think of his family for example, right? How days and holidays must feel like with after the loss of their only son. I think of his close friends who post pictures of him on the anniversary of his death. And I myself try to reflect on his passing every time I go home, and I drive through the intersection of Orlo and Gondor. I looked to the side and the crosses and the candles. And the notes are no longer there, but the lesson of that day still remains.
Now this comparison is a little imperfect, but the world shows three distinct reactions to the death of the greatest friend we've ever had: Jesus Christ.
There are those who are calloused and indifferent. They may not care. They may not know their religion may not be based on Christ. Or they may be atheists. Whatever they are, they deny the impact… the power of Christ’s death in their life. They deny the identity of Christ and therefore, by extension, they deny God Himself. They are what the psalmist describes in Psalm 53.1a: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” And they continue living on as usual.
There's no shortage though of people who claim to believe in Christ and claim to believe in His death. They profess His death, burial and resurrection. And they act and speak you know as someone who believes in Christ. They may adorn themselves with crosses. They may participate in celebrations of His resurrection on Easter. They may even celebrate His birth. They act and they speak just like a follower of Christ would. But if you dig any deeper, there's really no substance to that profession of faith, right? Because the death of Christ and the obedience that His death demands is not the centerpiece of their life. Paul described this idea or this condition very well in 2 Timothy 3.5. They have the form of godliness, but they deny its power because they're inauthentic.
The third group of people have taken the death of Jesus Christ to heart because they realize that sin, death, is a result of sin separating us from our Creator. And I think the best example of this person is Paul, the very person who wrote what we read in 2 Timothy. Because he never was with Christ while He was on this earth, and yet was willing to completely change his life and evolve into something completely different; boldly proclaiming in Galatians 2.20a:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
It's not just about keeping His memory alive. Paul says, “I have died with Him by sacrificing my wants and my desires; to take on the will of my God and heaven.”
But the reality is that these anecdotes are useless if we don't answer the following question: In what group do you find yourself in? I imagine… I'm going to assume that if you're at church, you probably don't deny Christ. You may not know much about Him, but I doubt that you deny Him. What I'm more worried, however, is that most of us or some of us (including myself) fall into the second category: that we profess Christ; that we have put on this appearance of godliness, but we deny its power because there's no substance to it. Because the memory of Jesus Christ has completely faded, and we've moved on with our lives. The goal I would hope for all of us is to move towards this third group. This idea of living with conviction.
True, transformative change.
And thank God, that we have an opportunity. That He grants us opportunities to change like the very one that we have in front of us right now. If you don't know Christ, let us show Him to you and His word. If you deny Him, give us a chance. Let us show you what He's done for all of us.
And if you find yourself straying and find yourself living in this shell of what it means to be a Christian, then join us as we strive to live for a life of conviction and true obedience to Him.
Won't you do so now?