28 Mar How the Gospel Changed Me
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” — Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
When I was in elementary school, my parents surprised me with tickets to go see one of my favorite magicians, David Copperfield. I loved magic growing up. The magician’s ability to completely boggle the mind was captivating to me. I remember the last trick David did at his show. He brought a live elephant onto the stage, which as a kid, was awesome! He covered up the elephant with a giant sheet. And almost in an instant, he snapped his fingers and pulled off the sheet, and right where the elephant use to be, appeared a double decker bus full of tourists. I nearly lost my mind in that moment! How in the world could such a transformation occur?
Obviously, as I grew older, I realized that magic isn’t miraculous transformations, as much as it is diverting attention, and smoke and mirrors. That’s why I am so thankful that Gospel transformation is in no way like a magic trick. My “religious” background consisted of very little church and a whole lot of skepticism. From eighth grade until my junior year of high school I would have labeled myself as an atheist. But then something miraculous happened. A group of students who attended my high school started to invite me to things. I was not normally the kid who got invited to things. I avoided them for the longest time, until finally I literally had this thought, “I will go hang out with them and be my completely obnoxious self, and then they will leave me alone!”
I remember walking into a living room full of high school students. I recognized some faces, but didn’t really “know” anyone. And as I sat there feeling extremely awkward, God began to show me what true Gospel authenticity looks like. I had rarely seen the Gospel lived out in a positive way. Usually it came in the form of someone preaching “at” me and telling me to stop what I was doing and go to church. But this group was different. They were…normal, but joyful. And it was there in that living room that God began to chip away the hard pieces of my heart. It was also in that living room that I met the girl I would marry five years later.
The Gospel is powerful. It has the ability to take something and not just change it, or even “fix” it, but completely transform it into something completely different. I can honestly say that I am not the same person as the guy who walked into that living room. A couple of things changed for me in that moment:
- I was confronted with my brokenness. As an atheist, this is a foreign concept. Sure, I knew I made mistakes, but that doesn’t make me “broken”. But when God grabbed hold of my life, He opened my eyes to see that no good I could ever do would make me pleasing and acceptable to Him. Which brought me to my second revelation…
- I was introduced to a Savior. People began to speak into my life and teach me about a God who paid it all so that I could live in freedom. I learned that I didn’t have to “make up” for my past sin, but that it had already been covered.
Aren’t you glad the Gospel isn’t a magic trick? God isn’t waiting to pull back the curtain to show us that the sin is still there. He has completely transformed us because of what Jesus has done. It is not an illusion, it is a miracle.