We can’t seem to get enough of Makeover shows…bodies, faces, wardrobes, hairstyles. They can be humorous and heartwarming but unfortunately way too many have little to show for it long term. Weight comes back on and people return to old styles unable to maintain the slick new look.
Why? Transformation never works when it is only skin deep. Oh, maybe for a short while cosmetic change can be maintained but, unless something significant happens deep within a person, they will ultimately return to status quo.
This is especially true of your loved ones who are far from Jesus Christ or are only marginally, casually, barely connected to him.
I want you to think of someone like that in your life, someone outside of faith, or outside of meaningful relationship with Christ.
· family – son, daughter, father, mother, in-law, cousin
· neighbor – literally or connected through some activity in your life
· co-worker or fellow student
Get their face in your mind. They need a makeover of the most complete variety. They need a transformation of their soul.
Who will help them find it?
That has been our focus these past 5 weeks. Let’s review what we know about the American Soul - the faith and fate of those we love:
Facts and stats about the American Soul
1 out of 5 Americans identify themselves as having no religious affiliation.
Less than 1 out of 4 Americans participate in a church.
Fewer than 1 out of 10 young adults mention faith as their top priority.
· A huge chunk of a new generation has concluded they want nothing to do with us. As Christians, we are widely mistrusted by a skeptical generation.
Americans’ trust in religious leadership is declining faster than in any other leadership group.
· Don’t expect the clergy to rescue your loved one. They don’t trust us.
Belief in traditional Christian theological values is plummeting.
· 75% Americans believe there are other religions that offer a true path to God
· Growing number of people are rejecting absolute moral truth
· America is returning to deism – distant, uninvolved God who we only consult when life turns bad.
“The predominate American religion is intensely personalized and its adherents immature, soft, and intellectually lazy.”
So, that’s how things look at ground level…let’s get the 10,000 foot view (so to speak) God’s perspective:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Romans 1:18
· No need to interpret those words, they’re pretty clear: Godless, wicked and suppressing the truth
And the result is that God has already begun to judge human beings who are this way:
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts… Romans 1:24
That’s a street level perspective and a Divine point of view…let’s look inside your loved one...what’s going on inside?
“The people we love are slaves. Slaves to sin. Slaves to addiction. Slaves to rebellion against God’s commands. They’re doing exactly what they want to do. They’re swallowing nails. And it’s killing them from the inside.”
· many of the people we love are trapped. They are slaves to compulsions that are killing them but they think that they are free…But they’re not free. They’re marching to the drums of their slave-master. They’re hanging from strings like a marionette.
And what about their future?
We will all stand before God's judgment seat. Romans 14:10
If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15
Now stop. Think about that person in your life I asked you to imagine. How does this all make you feel? About them? About your relationship with them?
· this series was not about drawing boundaries (which is typical of us)
· this is not about theology (what we believe)
· this series was designed to break your heart and get you to DO something.
o to change how we relate, how we act, how we apportion our time, how we love.
This series boils down to one primary question: Who will rescue your loved one from their body of death? Romans 7:24
Now…before we wrap this up I want to paint one more picture of your loved one. But this time, not a dark one but a beautiful one.
What would your loved one look like if they “got it”? If they heard, repented and believed? How would they appear How would they appear…who would they be…totally transformed?
I want to show you the ultimate make-over.
Romans 8: 1
Two things are true about Romans 8: maddeningly dense and complicated but at the same time wondrously beautiful.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
· Imagine your loved one in chains…now set free…look at their face!
Your loved one can be transformed from condemned to free!
· one of the biggest lies about following Jesus is that it is confining when in fact it is liberating. You must show them that!
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God.
· there is a daily battle going on in the mind of your loved one – btw them and God…because God is not letting them alone! He is the great hound of heaven!
Your loved one’s mind can be transformed from war with God to peace with God!
9…And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
· “if Christ is IN you…” still one of the greatest of all miracles that could happe to your loved one…God can indwell them.
Your loved one can be transformed from full of themselves to filled with the Holy Spirit!
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…
· I never cease to be amazed at how many fatherless and motherless people there are. Especially among 20 and 30 somethings. It’s like one whole generation got dropped by their parents. So many are hungry for a father or mother to love them. Which makes conversion to faith in Jesus that much more beautiful…because that is exactly what happens! They get a father.
Your loved one can be transformed from orphans to children of God
They get a father who will provide the security they long for…
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:1-39
Can you picture your loved one totally transformed?
· Free, at peace with God, filled with the Holy Spirit and enjoying the security of a father who loves them dearly?
That total makeover is possible for your friend…but how?
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10: 13-14
It’s pretty much up to you. Here’s what it will take…
1. “If we want our friends and family to be free from the power of sin, we need to show them what true freedom looks like. Our lives should be radiant.”
2. Our lives must exude humility and grace. (they expect us to be bigoted and insensitive)
3. We must get in the room with them and stay in the room with them.
o We have to work primarily through relationships and friendships. (to have conversations we have to be in the same room – close enough to talk)
o And stay in the room when they push back, scoff, or offend.
4. We must not be “ashamed of the gospel”
o not be afraid to talk about our own story and explain as best we can about following Jesus.
Remember this – you cannot mess this up!
Let me show you how it can work with two real stories:
1st sent me two weeks ago by Chris.
· (Chris had told me some time ago about his brother in law who was from a religious background but far from Jesus Christ)
He spoke to me last summer about changes in my life. I had shared with him that I stopped playing games and gave my life to Christ! Long story short, I did not know after our talk until today that he had started reading the bible as a comparison to his religious beliefs. He then started going to a church in Cincinnati like Grace a few months ago. He just texted me to let me know he has accepted Jesus and now see's and feels what we had talked about last summer!!! It brought me tears of joy!!!! Once again I've seen that sometimes just sharing our story, and prayer, is all it takes for someone to take that step of faith!!! That's what a friend did for me 3 years ago! It's been like dominos ever since, people on both sides of our family have been coming to Jesus like wild fire!!! God is Great!!!
This email I received just this week from Amy:
Late last summer my husband and I got word that an elderly neighbor had been sick and needed help with getting her house cleaned and lawn cared for. She was a very gruff, bitter woman who spent the early part of our relationship very guarded. I would be lying if I said it was a joy and pleasure from day one. Over time, she really softened to us became highly grateful and finally said, “I don’t understand why you help out an old lady like me.” I would cowardly respond, “well we’re supposed to take care of each other.” All the while I knew I should be saying, “it’s the love of Christ that compels us.” Finally, God really got me under conviction and I knew that I had to do more than just be nice and silently pray through her house. I couldn’t bear the thought of her passing away and me knowing that I had something to offer. I wanted to tell God I was chicken and to find someone else, but HE wouldn’t let go. So I felt like a fool and one day before leaving her house, asked her, “Do you know Jesus?” I was surprised that her response was, “I used to.” She followed my encouragement for more conversation and she told me about an awful situation that happened to her by a loved one regarding the church when she was a young woman. That day she said she wanted nothing to do church or God. After hearing her story I didn’t have much else to say except that I was sorry that happened to her and that wasn’t Jesus. What people do and what Jesus would do aren’t always the same thing and what she described was not Who Jesus is. We never discussed salvation any further, but she did let me pray out loud for her a couple times before doctor’s appointments she was worried about. It would be nice to have this tidied up and say that she came to Christ, but life just isn’t always that clean and orderly.
She died a few weeks ago. I did see her briefly in ICU a few days before her death. She couldn’t speak but she did look at me in a way that moved my spirit. God only knows.
Since we met her, I did get to meet her youngest daughter, who had always been so appreciative for the help our family has provided. We started communicating a little more frequently. Just this week I was mowing our neighbors yard when her daughter pulled up to bag more things up from her mom’s house. We stood in her mom’s front yard. The daughter felt safe enough to start talking about how hard all this has been. She lost her dad 6 years ago. and told me “While that was so terribly hard, it was peaceful. I knew dad was secure in his faith. We would talk about God-things a lot. But mom NEVER did. She wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I just don’t know.” I don’t know if I offered any comfort, but I told her about me asking her mom if she knew Jesus. I even said, “I know that sounds crazy. Who really asks that anyway?” I proceeded to tell her pieces of the conversation I had with her mom. I explained that while I don’t know where her mom stands either, I do know that God’s love is abundant. And in her final days she was listening, was soften to us and did let me pray for her.
Again, not tidy, not all cleaned up with a happy ending. But I was overwhelmed at how real this sermon series is. We didn’t go looking for this with our neighbor, but nonetheless, God had another plan.
What will YOU do?
· you know the truth – you’ve experienced the truth – you enjoy the truth – you are free and face a wonderful future.
Your brother in law, your neighbor, your dad, your co-worker, your cousin, your roommate, your fellow worker does not…
One more time – get them in your mind – now imagine them free, imagine them full of joy, imagine them transformed through the love of Jesus Christ…