I am a special education teacher at a high school and several of my students have a strong and pure faith that some people never find in a lifetime. Somehow it is easy for my young friends to see their own need and approach God for help. They are truly blessed as Jesus refers to at the beginning of Matthew chapter five. Blessed are the poor, the meek, the grieving…Somehow the place of deepest need is the place where we easily meet God.
The good news of the gospel can be so elusive. We can go to church weekly, even read our Bibles and still miss it! Jesus described this well when he said, “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mt. 7:14.
I missed the good news for years, until the Lord showed me my need. It was painful to come face to face with my own brokenness. It took some time before I could look at my own shortcomings without rationalizations. There was no excuse for my addiction, my behavior, for my very self. I was a sinner and I needed to be forgiven. But deeper than that, I needed to be changed, for forgiveness is of little value if I fall back into the same behaviors the minute that I leave my place of prayer.
I needed to be changed from the inside out, and this is the gospel that Jesus is offering to us. He is not simply telling us to live better lives, for he knows that we are not able to do this. He is offering to make us into better people.
“He does not call us to do what he did, but to be as he was, permeated with love.” (Divine Conspiracy, p. 183)
As I came to God daily in prayer, he turned my spite into love, my anger into forgiveness, and my anxiety into peace. The bad habits, the defective thinking patterns, slowly began to transform.
If you read the words of Jesus, you will find that he holds up an impossible standard, but he offers to change us into the kind of people who are capable of loving in this stunning way:
“Our inner person is being renewed day by day.” I Cor. 4:16