Don’t let those wings deceive you, that pig will remain earthbound. It represents the impossible, like when Hell freezes over. So let’s consider if the impossible exists. Absolutely, and here’s one—me being drafted to play center on an NBA team. In my prime I had white man’s disease to the max, with a vertical lift of six inches, and even at 5’11” my speed just exceeded the normal turtle. Now add 50 years, and clearly the impossible does exist. But perhaps it’s not as pervasive as we often think.
Not long ago the news featured the victim of a horrendous crime, and a friend remarked how the boy’s life was ruined, unable to overcome the tragedy. We hear that people don’t change, that what they were they are and will be. We hear that leopards don’t change their spots. Please allow me to suggest, in the afterglow of Resurrection Sunday, that all who follow Jesus possess the power for radical change. We do get damaged by life. We do battle some weaknesses and troubles our entire lives. OK, leopards may not be able to change their spots, but we’re not leopards. We’re followers with resurrection power to handle all the trouble that slams us.
Paul examined a lot of behavioral issues in Romans 6, ranging from lawsuits to sexual immorality to thieves, the greedy, drunks and crooks. In the middle of a chapter on how to act Paul goes theological and applies Easter to us today, with great news, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also” (1 Corinthians 6:14).
Do people change? This impacts us in two areas. First, I have seen people come into connection with Christ and change. Big time. Convicts on Death Row. Compulsive liars. People addicted to alcohol and drugs. Sexual immorality. The selfish. Greedy. Lasting change. They became different people, and it stuck. Hundreds. Paul wrote of those in Rome, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (verse 11). Jesus’ resurrection required much more power than we will ever need in our lives, so God has the power to change our identity.
People do change when they begin to follow Jesus. But we get more. That resurrection power continues to transform our behavior and character AND to deal with all the difficulties of life. Check out this promise, just two chapters later, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (8:35-37).
People, we don’t just conquer the troubles and hardships and dangers. We kick butt. Be careful here. Following Jesus doesn’t keep trouble away, so please don’t expect that. But we can stay faithful, and we have the resurrection power to face the worst life can throw at us, even death. And in all of that, God works for good. Check out Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.’
Some thoughts. Have hope. People can change. Obviously, not all do. We can change. We can grow. Why? Easter. God’s power allowed this day. And that same power lives in us.
Kick Starting the Application
On the continuum of possible changes, where do you find yourself? What has contributed to that? Name a few things God has already changed in you. What are some changes where you need God’s resurrection power? What keeps you from fully accessing that power?