A Transformed Heart
This week in anticipation of a future nomination to the Supreme Court, I felt compelled to pick up the high school yearbook from my senior year. A side note--my 50-year High school reunion is tonight. No, I am not attending.
Thumbing through the yearbook I was struck by how simple, innocent, “normal” the words and pictures are. I found pictures of the school board which featured my dad. There were photos of the support staff in action—the facilities crew, the ladies in the cafeteria, the “admins” (back then they were called secretaries), and the school nurse, Mrs. Early. Every morning I was responsible for gathering the attendance report from each classroom and delivering that data to Mrs. Early. Inevitably that assignment ended with the 2 of us having a wonderful talk. After a year of that routine we became good friends.
There are photographs of the principal, the vice principal, and the entire faculty. I discovered pictures of all the sports teams. Fascinating to note, the only girls’ sports team was cheerleading. Next was a long section featuring the 1967-1968 special events. There was our Homecoming Queen, who was a female; snapshots of the big Homecoming game and dance; photos of various kinds of fund raisers; and appreciation night events. As I said, thumbing through the yearbook I was struck by how simple, innocent, “normal” the words and pictures are.
To be honest, the yearbook offered only a partial record of that year. While I do have many great memories of that time, as I reflected on my life through high school, college, and until age 30, I had two reactions: I was ashamed and embarrassed by much of my behavior and thought. Thankfully those emotions were quickly washed away with my gratitude to God for His grace and mercy. I felt a tidal wave of His love for me and His forgiveness to me.
Paul writes a letter to a church filled with people like me. In that letter he reminds them of their past and of the present.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB):
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such weresome of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justifiedin the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Note the past tense. That who you used to be, but not any longer.
As is often the case, Eugene Peterson helps us to better understand the passage. He writes:
“Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 The Message (MSG).
That reality of God’s love is what motivates us. More and more, as the Holy Spirit shows us the reality of our new relationship with Him, we are compelled to live lives that glorify Him. We live this new life not in an effort to reimburse Him but our deep desire to know Him even more and to declare Him to the world around us. We are truly new creatures who have not merely experienced “behavior modification,” but have been given a heart that is transformed. We receive a mind that can know God and a heart that can love Him.
“Talk” again soon.