Links Daily Devotional

Changed, and Changed Again

We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (1 Corinthians 15:52, NIV)

If you play your golf in the same place most of the time, you get to know the other regulars just as they get to know you. There are the stereotypes—long hitters, gamblers, loudmouths, cheaters, walkers, rules-enforcers, storytellers, range rats, and those who spend more time at the nineteenth hole than they do on the other eighteen.

Stereotypes never tell the whole story, because there are all kinds of players in-between. Some, believe it or not, are just downright nice to play with, not messing with your head or angling for your wallet.

Rarest of all, however, may be the golfer who has changed.

Face it, we are none of us very good at allowing others to change. We size you up, sum you up, seal you up, and stick you in a corner for as long as we know you—because, well, let’s leave it to Jeremiah: “Can a leopard change its spots?” (Jeremiah 13:23).

It is to our shame, of course, that we miss the context of that passage. The unchangeability in Jeremiah’s message refers to the commitment people make to sin, and God’s willingness to allow them to pay the consequences for their immorality and idolatry.

But the full narrative of Scripture (which is always key to interpreting any single passage) pushes our understanding in a different direction. For when Jesus enters the picture and we recognize the fullness of his redemptive work in the heart of a person, we realize that change is exactly what he has in mind. In fact, it is his very work to change us now and, one day, to change us again.

The first change comes by the entrance of the Holy Spirit into our lives on the day of our salvation. When we say yes to Jesus, we are naturally—or, to be more accurate, supernaturally—saying yes to the Father and the Spirit as well. These three are forever knitted together and one does not come without the other. So the Holy Spirit enters our life and begins, as we read yesterday, to move us in another direction, away from darkness and into the light, away from sin and into righteousness. We are changed, and when we lay ourselves open to the fullness of that change, others will see the difference. They will view us as new.

But we must confess along with Paul that God’s work, though excellent, is still being done in the context of our sinful frames, which walk in a sin-filled world. The second change, then—the wholesale change—is yet to come. At that time, when Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will be raised and the living in Christ will be renewed with them. This is high drama! How you and I have been is not how we will be for eternity; who you and I have been is not who we will be for eternity. While we look to imitate Christ now, in that time we will be so much like him. He will be exalted and we will be humble before him, but we will bear the marks of his righteousness and nothing will be the same about us.

Jeff Hopper
March 11, 2015
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