First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Transformed!

April 11, 2016

    Yesterday, like most Sundays, was a day of rest and recovery. Leading worship and preaching two sermons usually leaves me totally wiped out. With that condition hovering over me, I settled in as Joe started a "Transformer" movie marathon. Yes, we watched 1 and 2 and 3 and 4!  Seriously, I thought my mind worked in bizarre ways, but I can't hold a candle to the writers, directors, and producers of these movies. Setting aside the movie plots and themes, one thing did emerge from the viewing. Old beat up dilapidated cars, trucks, and planes can turn into state of the art bipeds capable of feats beyond human comprehension.

     The movies are age-old sagas of good versus evil and twist and turn through scintillating battles and momentary defeats and victories. Admittedly, that was the first time I watched these movies, so there are many facets of the plot I'm still trying to figure out.  One thing of which I am convinced (at least from my perspective) is that "Optimus Prime" is much like Jesus.  The central figure in most conversations and epic battles is "Optimus Prime". Comparatively speaking, Jesus seems to be in the midst of all conflict in the world today. Either people are accepting Jesus or rejecting Him. He truly is one who divides and raises strong responses.

        “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 

        But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. “Do not suppose

        that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

        (Matthew 10:32-34, NIV)

This is not the picture of Jesus we would be drawn to in our churches and faith development, but it is scripture that does paint a fully orbed view of the one who saves. The primary task of Jesus is to save us from sin. He accomplished that on a Roman cross and now sits victorious over death. We can enjoy the benefits of Christ's work on that cross and empty tomb! We must follow him!

    In a way that only God can do, our dilapidated old beat up souls are regenerated and made new. We become state of the art disciples of Jesus who are called to do amazing things in God's kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit. We worship and love Jesus and serve him by spreading the love and grace of God in our world.  How does this transformation occur? God's gifts are available to all, but only those who repent of sin and pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ experience the fullness of God's kingdom.

        "Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they

        did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you

        had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." 

        (Matthew 11:20-21, NIV)

If we have read of, heard of, experienced Jesus in prayer, or any other meeting with the Lord Jesus, then we have been offered the opportunity to behold him and decide to receive him as 'our' Lord and Savior. Apparently, the people in Korazin and Bethsaida met Jesus and weren't too impressed. Their arrogance was their downfall. Jesus offered a strong rebuke (denounce) to these cities. His indignance toward those who were unwilling to change leaves us to consider our own indifference to Jesus. If we are not fully on board with Jesus, we need to be and repentance will need to be evident. If the world isn't on board with Jesus, they need to be and will only get there if we are willing to be imitators of Christ. It is not our main task to be indignant or denounce but to love. The love of Christ can transform the most broken vile person and proof has already been offered of this in scripture. Let's lead somebody closer to Jesus this day and allow His glory to transform them. It is his job not ours. "Disciples of Jesus, let's roll!"

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