WHEN THE TRANSFORMATION TAKES PLACE
Genesis 45: 3 – 11, 15
1 Corinthians 15: 35 – 38, 42 – 50
Luke 6: 27 – 38
Have you ever noticed how different it is watching something from a distance compared to actually doing it yourself?
I sometimes look out at people on the lake windsurfing and think, “How graceful that is!” But I know, having given it a go, that graceful it might be, but not when you actually try it – to begin with at least.
The same thing certainly applies to watching a mountain bike video compared to actually riding oneself. It looks so thrilling, so flowing, so exhilarating. When you give it a go (at least to begin with) your actual experience is; how dangerous, how exhausting!
But here’s the thing: the people who screw their courage to the sticking post (as Shakespeare puts it) and who persevere, find that with determination and practice, that which they at first experienced as dangerous and exhausting turns into something thrilling, flowing and exhilarating. It’s after they have made that consistent effort that the transformation takes place.
In other words they undergo a change.
As Joseph says to his brothers, 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Along with Joseph’s perseverance come the intervention of God. What began as an unpleasant thing, Joseph has had the foresight to see beyond, and this has enabled God to transform the situation for good.
As Paul says of the Christian’s resurrection body, 43It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. Those whom Jesus described in the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant;” those of whom he was thinking when he said “the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved,” are placed in the grave to rot but are raised with glorious resurrection bodies. It is the same principle. When we are obedient and courageous (another way of understanding good and faithful) and stick to it; God comes through mightily and miraculously.
As Jesus said in the Gospel reading this morning, “35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High.”
It takes courage and stickability to love your enemies, but in doing so the rewards are great!
It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. I ride my mountain bike with joy and skill today but over the years I have broken both collar bones, my scafoid three times, punctured my lung, and had a C6C7 fusion in my neck – to say nothing of numerous other painful experiences. But I have stuck with it and still exercise courage and determination every time I ride.
But my goodness it’s worth it!
And it’s exactly the same when we seek to follow God meaningfully and make progress in any aspect of following Jesus, but especially in carrying out the primary job he has left us to do: recruit other people for the Kingdom of God.
You can go to Woodhill Forest Mountain Bike Park and tootle along a forestry road, safe and sound and bored out of your skull after a while, wondering what it is that attracts so many people to this activity.
Or you can begin with a step-by-step approach as you take to the trails and work assiduously (with care and perseverance) bravely extending your skill and fitness, to the point where you realise, “My goodness, this is fun!”
The same applies to our carrying out the Great Commission: sharing the Good News.
Three people have spoken to me recently about attempts they have made to share Christ, which is encouraging. All these experiences have differed from one another. I think we need to know that sharing the love of God can take many forms but they all have this in common: they are intentional acts, they take courage to carry out and they take persistence to master.
The choice is yours and the choice is mine. But it’s worth remembering that the transformation only takes place when we do our bit. In the very last words of our Gospel reading this morning, “for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
God bless you all.