CHANGED INTO HIS LIKENESS
A Rabid Fundamentalist Column
John W. Cowart
Change scares me.
Or, at the least, it makes me very uneasy.
For instance, when one of my teen-aged daughters drops an old boyfriend for a new one, the old phrase about the devil you know jumps to my mind.
I wasn't crazy about the first boy, but for heaven's sake, this new one wears earrings!
I dread changing cars. Sure, this used one is new to us, but what unknown surprises will it present ten miles down the road?
When my wife says that she's "improved" a favorite receipt, I just know I won't like the new dish. Sometimes, the new tastes better, of course, but I'd usually rather not find out.
How do you feel when management announces major policy changes at work? Whether the changes are for good or ill, they still make us uneasy.
We resist the winds of change.
I saw a common -- but odd just the same -- change in some of my tools this morning. The screwdriver from my tool box changed racially. So did my knife blade. So did the scissors from my desk drawer.
Each tool looks and functions the same. The screwdriver still has a red, high-impact plastic handle. The knife blade is still sharp. The scissors still cuts paper. But the internal molecular structure of each item will never be the same again. They have been changed.
The change in my tools is simple, but to me most change is scary. When a missionary first told me about Christ and being born again, I was afraid to be changed. I had my own plan; what if God wanted to change me into a preacher? I certainly didn't want that!
I had my own ambitions and I feared that Christ wanted to force me into some unfamiliar mold which wasn't the real me.
I was a regular guy and for me to go around acting pious or godly seemed ridiculous. If I changed, I was afraid my friends would laugh.
I was afraid it wouldn't last.
I was afraid Christ wasn't real.
I feared change.
Eventually, when I let Christ begin to change me, the same sort of thing happened to me as happened to the screwdriver, knife and scissors. Not exactly the same thing, you understand, but the changes involved are close enough to illustrated what the new birth means to another person who's also afraid that God might want to change him into something he doesn't want to be.
The change in my tools was very simple.
I rubbed each tool against a horseshoe magnet. With only a few strokes, the horseshoe magnetized the screwdriver. It polarized things within the metal so that while each tool retains its previous shape and function, each now has an added quality.
Each is fully itself as it was before, but now each also manifests the characteristics of the magnet which touched it. And although each tool is magnetic, it is still what it was originally designed to be.
God originally designed you for a purpose.
You are His tool created for a specific job or function.
He is a craftsman; he won't use you to pound nails if you were made to cut paper. He won’t use you as a can opener if you’re made for brain surgery. He knows what you were designed for and, if you let Him, He will use you to that end.
God does not lead you into the frustration of doing things you were never meant to do.
That’s satan’s dirty trick – and our own screw up.
When you refuse to fit into God's plan, your alignment gets all messed up; things inside you tug this way and that until you get lost and confused, not knowing what you're made for or where you're going.
When you allow Christ to change you, He polarizes you. He realigns you. He magnetizes you, giving you an internal plus that wasn't there before. You remain your essential self, yet you become His child.
And you begin to become like Him!
How about that?
Just as contact with the magnet makes the screwdriver into a magnet, so contact with Christ makes you into a Christ-ian. And with every stroke of contact, you become more and more like Him.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). This means the closer you walk with Christ, the more like him you become. (Can you name any quality of his that you don't want for yourself?)
You don’t push and pant and strain to become godly; you become a godly person by contact with God. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is!" (I John 3:2).
There are two major differences between metal becoming magnetized and you becoming godly: First, the metal has no choice; you do.
Magnetic force overwhelms iron, but you can choose to resist Almighty God. He respects your choice. He allows it, but do you really want that?
Secondly, magnetism does not cause pain; new birth does.
Not your pain -- His.
Metal spikes punctured His hands and feet.
The metal blade of a spear gouged a hole in His side.
He hurt for you.
Jesus once said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32).
He was indeed lifted up on the cross, and everyone who hears of it feels that magnetic drawing power. You feel uneasy thinking of Him; yet something inside you pulls toward Him. Christ attracts you, why resist? Is there any reason you should not let Christ change you and become the absolute master of your life?
Here's what to do:
Don’t think that you’ll have to preach at people. A magnet does not go out looking for iron filings to convert. Folks will notice a happy change in you and ask, “Did you get a haircut?”, “New Suit?” “Loosing weight?” “Did you talk with your doctor?”
You will find that just as one magnetized paperclip will lift a string of others, so your confession of Christ will draw other people to Him also.
Now, don’t think that you will suddenly become a giant electromagnet, the kind that can lift railroad cars!
That is possible, but it doesn’t happen to too many people.
I used to think I could be that kind of powerful magnet; but it turns out that I’m more like a refrigerator magnet – Maybe in a pinch I could lift a paperclip, but most of the time it’s all I can do to cling to the pure white Solid Surface without sliding to the floor and needing to be picked up again.
Most change that contact with Christ brings about in us is just like the change in those magnetized tools: internal and invisible.
Yet, while it may be invisible, it can not be hidden. Internal change does affect external behavior. Methodist founder John Wesley once said, “When a man truly turns to Christ, even his dog knows it”.
Yes, contact with Christ will change you -- change you in ways you'll like; if the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.
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