It’s such a surreal experience to transition from someone who doesn’t consider God anything more than a concept, to worshipping Him as Lord and Saviour. It’s a strange move to go from someone whose whole goal for living was serving self to someone whose whole motive for living is to love and obey Jesus. To say that we are a new Creation is more than an understatement. This transformation that Jesus brings about in us is total, covering every aspect of life.
Lest some atheist think that I’m saying we Christians are better human beings than any given atheist, I’m not. Lest any atheist think that I’m saying we’re perfect - Far from it! However, I am saying that if we allow Him the freedom to work in our lives, God will make us far, far better individuals than we were before He came into our lives.
Since becoming a child of God, a follower of Jesus, I no longer need to strive for security, value, worth or belonging. All those things are simply mine to enjoy. Because of that, dwelling on the goodness of my Lord and Saviour comes as easily as breathing. As the lover of my soul, Jesus is simply part of my waking life. There is not one area of my life where His influence isn’t important to me. I am drawn to what is good and repulsed by what is evil; the exact opposite of my pre Christian days.
Since becoming a child of God, a follower of Jesus, I can actually love. Not the romantic, "I've fallen in love" crap of Hollywood, but the willed, volitional desire to do good to others regardless of how I'm treated back. That in and of itself is totally different. Prior to Jesus coming into my life I loved myself - Period! Any good that I did, and it was precious little, was never absent the thought of how this good deed would make others think more highly of me.
Since becoming a child of God, a follower of Jesus, I now love to be around good people. Before, I saw them as fools and weak-minded, losers to be sure. I now love my life and am deeply grateful for all that God has given me, especially the areas where I’ve been forced to grow by leaning into and absorbing His strength. Even in the most difficult of times, peace and joy are never absent. That is totally unlike my pre Christian days.
The decision to do the right thing is now part of who I am. Before Jesus, doing the wrong, the crooked, the illegal, the shady deal, the shortcut, all these and more were second nature to me. No longer. Jesus has made me habitually attuned to obeying the law, to helping those who struggle, to give of myself, my time, my money. Since Jesus came into my life I can actually see and respond to the needs of people. Prior to Jesus I would purposely walk past the needs that were directly in front of me. Since Jesus came into my life I don’t need to be “loved back.” I don’t care if I’m rejected or not respected. This is so not the way I used to be.
My body now belongs to God. O my how I used to abuse my body. I really didn’t have any power to do otherwise. Today it’s not just that my spirit is willing, but my flesh is now also powerful and eager to do what’s right and good. As a counsellor, there are many, many opportunities to become involved with “needy” women. In my pre Christian days this was truly a danger area for me. No longer. Today, when the offer comes I genuinely ask, “Why would you want to be with a man who is so selfish, so self-centred, so self-obsessed that he would do that to his wife?” That is usually enough to put an end to it. However, some people are so wounded that they find the idea of being with a married man exciting. If the first question isn’t enough, “Why would I want to be with someone who is so selfish, so self-centred, so self-obsessed that she would do that to my wife?” is always enough to end it. Today, avoiding paths that lead to temptation come naturally and with ease. That was not the case at all in my pre Christian days.
Today, because of Jesus, I can see that I’m not missing out on anything of importance by rejecting the things that this world has to offer. The sin in the world has less and less in me to which it can make its appeal. If evil people get rich - let em. If pagans are popular - well you go girl. If all the credit goes to those who use and misuse their wealth - so be it. Sin and a pattern of sinful living is a load of crap to which I’ll never ever return. I’m no longer attracted to anything this world has to offer. I’m a stranger here. I’m just passing through. My attention is drawn to making this a better place but I have no intention of being anything more than a visitor. I am not, as the book of Revelation so aptly puts it, one of “those who lives upon the earth.”
I no longer have to hide the real me. I don’t have to pretend that I’m better than I am. I have the ability to know and hang with those who are also transparent and able to have deep and honest friendships. We no longer have to hide our thoughts or pretend that we don’t fail. Because I now leave the outcomes of daily events in the hands of my Creator I no longer have to manipulate others for my own ends. I can be with those who do evil without being drawn or tempted to mimic their behaviours. Loving the sinner while hating the sin has now become more than a trite phrase. That is so very different than before.
I am now whole. Who I am at home is who I am in any other setting. My inside matches my outside. What you see is what you get. I am at peace with my God. My life has meaning and context and purpose. This is nothing like it was in the days before Jesus came into my life.
I don’t need to defend myself when it’s been pointed out to me where I’m wrong. Boy oh boy, is THAT ever different! In fact, I’m thankful to find out where I’ve been off track. Anger has been and still is my weak spot. I’m not who I should be in this area, and I’m not who I’m going to be in this area, but thanks to God alone, I’m not who I used to be in this area.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I’m even close to perfect. I have a long, long way to go. I have more needed changes to be made in my life than God will have time to make this side of heaven. But this I know, He will not stop working on me nor will He turn His back on me as I falter and stumble in my walk with Him. I know whom I believe and I know that He will bring me safely home in far better condition than I was ever in when I thought that I was the captain of my fate and the master of my soul.