Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

What About The Change?

          This past Sunday (July 13, 2008), I preached on the story of the sower and the seed from Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

            I was captured by the idea that God is an extravagant sower of seed into our lives regardless of whether we are “hard, rocky, thorny, or good soil.” I preached my heart out to get the folks to see that God is present with us sowing the good seed of His Word into our lives, our circumstances, and our situations.

            But as I taught this message I was literally haunted by the thought of how often we encounter the good seed of God’s Word and it makes no difference in our lives. It produces no fruit. It brings no harvest. It effects no change.

            As I looked into the faces of hundreds of people I care deeply about, I began to wonder how many were truly transformed and saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            I even started looking at my own life and asking the question, “Where is the fruit? Where is the sign that God’s Word, God’s grace, God’s gospel, has radically changed my life?”

            I remembered a song from some years ago by Steven Curtis Chapman entitled “The Change.”

            Some of the lyrics went like this: 

Well I got myself a t-shirt that says what I believe

I got letters on my bracelet to serve as my ID.

I got the necklace and the key chain

And almost everything a good Christian needs

I got the little Bible magnets on my refrigerator door

And a welcome mat to bless you before you walk across my floor

I got a Jesus bumper sticker

And the outline of a fish stuck on my car

And even though this stuffs all well and good

I cannot help but ask myself

What about the change?

What about the difference?

What about the grace?

What about forgiveness?

What about a life that’s showing

I’m undergoing the change?

          As church ended and everyone left, I had a few minutes of quiet reflection in my office. I thought about how little change I see in my life. I believe in God. I believe Jesus died for my sins. But when I look at my spiritual life, I see little fruitfulness.

          In Galatians 5, the Bible says:

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! [New Living Translation]

          Even after being a Christian since I was a teenager and a local church pastor for nearly 25 years I see so little “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” I’m more like the hard, rocky, and thorny soil, than I am like the fertile, fruitful soil.

          Some say the church today is filled with people who profess to believe in God, call themselves Christians, worship, pray, and read the Bible, but live lives no different from those who do not do these things.

          Could it be that the story Jesus tells of the sower, the seed, and the soils, is a message to warn us that we can profess salvation without possessing it?

          The more I thought about this story the more I began to examine my own life. I remembered how the Bible encourages us to do this:

          “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” {2 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV}

          When I took the time to examine my life and compare it to the standards and commands of God I was convicted by my “hardness, shallowness, and thorns.” It made me cry out for a savior to rescue me, and a redeemer to deliver me. I prayed and asked God to change me, to help me grow, and to let me be fruitful for the cause of Jesus Christ.

          I never want to take for granted again, the spiritual state of anyone, myself included.




2 Responses to “What About The Change?”

  1. hey…yeah it worked. this page is cool.

  2. Still writing those great messages, I see! Hope all’s well with you and family.

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