So here’s a thought, what if God isn’t so much interested in changing you as He is in using you?
Don’t get all uptight and assume I’m saying what I’m not. We are sinful and broken and through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’m not talking about our sin nature (seriously, that has to change), but more along the lines of our personality.
I’ve been a believer, and church staff member for more than a couple decades now, and I’ve seen a universal assumption emerge. People assume that when Jesus forgives your sins He also requires a total ‘nerd’ over. A hyper-spiritual, KJV makeover if you will.
I don’t know when it got communicated, but somewhere in our ancient Christian past a rumor got started that eventually became accepted as truth. The rumor was that God not only wants to save your soul, He wants to give you a spiritual lobotomy.
I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I am pretty sure that confessing Jesus is Lord does not require a mandatory follow-up of throwing away all your music and listening only Christian worship elevator tunes, replacing your entire wardrobe with sweater vest ensembles, and learning to say “ Well, praise the Lord!” at the end of every sentence you use.
Again, don’t misunderstand, there must be a transformation. We cannot stay who we are spiritually, and continue to grow toward Jesus. It is just that I don’t see any evidence that you have to become some weird version of a three-dimensional Ned Flanders if you’re going to live for Jesus.
God is interested in removing your sin, purifying your mind and heart, and transforming your will and desires.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
But, and here’s the major thought, what if the reason God chose to save you was because He actually liked you… maybe even loved you. The personality that you have, the character that you’ve developed and your uniqueness… what if God wants you to keep those?
Personally, I think He does.
The case study for this is the Apostle Paul. Why in the world would God use this angry, violent, pompous jerk of a man to be the spearhead of the first century church? I mean, consider his track record:
- Organized the stoning of Stephen, a man so holy that Jesus appeared to him at this time of death (Acts 7:54–60).
- Initiated and led a personal crusade to destroy the church by killing and arresting anyone he chose, including women and children(Acts 9:1–2).
- Proud to be one of the most zealous (his words not mine) Pharisees of all Pharisees (Galatians 1:13–14). And, in case you don’t remember that whole subculture Jesus affectionately referred to as a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33). Not exactly a ringing endorsement .
We could go on and on with Paul’s history, but let’s just suffice to say that he was one arrogant, violent and destructive individual. Despite these sin issues, God apparently could see a wrongheaded, self focused individual whose personality traits drove him in a destructive direction as someone who could make an incredible Christian leader if those same tendencies were focused in a Godly direction.
Paul was so focused he often got tunnel vision, so passionate he was willing to suffer for what he pursued and so intelligent he could outthink his opponents on almost every turn.
And, even though he was trying to destroy God’s church, our Father still loved him and pursued him. And when God finally confronted him on the road to Damascus, He wanted that same tenacious, fiery and amazing individual to turn his energies toward Jesus.
In other words, God wanted Paul to do what my wife tells our children to do all the time: “Use your powers for good and not evil.”
God saved Paul from his sins, but he didn’t do a thing about his personality. Apparently God loved Paul, and not some fictionalized, whitewashed, prepackaged version of what the church thought Paul should look like.
I think many people stumble at the thought of becoming a believer, because they’re afraid that their passion for the NFL, their skills in the arts, their rapture experienced in great music, their amazing abilities in the workplace, their pursuit of a great laugh, their focus on the hunt, or their vision for their future will have to be compromised.
I think we (the church) have been missing the point for a long time. God loves people, as they are. He wants to save us from our sins, not our personality… I think He really does like us.
That same fire that drove Paul to persecute the church also gave him the ability to endure beatings and imprisonment for the sake of the church.
That same intelligence that kept him one step ahead of early believers, also was used in writing almost 80% of the New Testament.
That same zeal that consumed him in his racial feelings of superiority, became the same driving energy that consumed him to his very end, as he was willing to die for Jesus.
Oh, we all need to be transformed and changed, but the change is not always about what we do or how we look. God is so much more interested in changing our why.
You’ve heard parents shake their head as they talk about their children and say, “If they would just use that energy for Jesus…”
They couldn’t be more right. God has already given the personality, the nature, the character… it just needs to be rerouted to heaven.
He loves you, and the way you are does not need to be changed in most cases, just redeemed!
Your character and nature that have been self focused and destructive in the past, can become kingdom changers, church builders and life restorers when you allow God to use your personality in a Christ-like direction.