Last week I shared my story of being born again 9 years ago. I would like to share a part of that transformation process for those (like my old self) who think we Christians are perfect and have it all together and that making that commitment to follow Christ automatically transform us into “perfect” people.
There was a young guy in our cell block who had some crack cocaine and was selling it. I had spent a few weeks in the block with him and knew him, as a matter of fact, since I thought I was going down for most of the rest of my life, I had sold him my car. I told him to stay away from me with that stuff, that I didn’t want any part of it. One night about 15 minutes before lockdown, just 2 days after making the commitment to follow Jesus, I had asked him if I could borrow a soup (ya know, Ramen noodles, an inmates staple diet). Upon opening it in my room a tied-up corner of a baggie fell out of it with about a gram of crack! Here it was the soup he was keeping his stash in! Without much of a thought, I hurried and snorted all but about a line of it. I brought the baggie back to him with that little bit left, threw it on his bed and told him because of his stupidity I did most of it and here’s what’s left. I was really mad at him (because it was his fault, right)!
After we got locked down and the guards made their rounds, I was tweakin’ pretty good and pacing back and forth in my cell talking to myself and my celly. My celly, who had the top bunk, was in on his 7th DWI and had just surrendered his life to the Lord a couple weeks before I did. I was pacing and weeping and saying things like: “Here we go again, trying to do something good in my life and I already messed up just 2 days into it! No matter what I try to do that’s good in life I’m a failure…”
This went on for about 10 minutes, weeping and having a pity party, when suddenly I stopped at looked at my celly. He asked what was up? It was then I realized 2 things. First, that I was weeping, crying, actual tears in my eyes big time! What the heck was that!? I never cried for anything or anyone in my known life except for animals that I have lost. And certainly never cried over doing drugs. Secondly, doing drugs was a second nature to me, and would have given it no more though than smoking a cigarette or drinking a soda, yet here I was trippin’ over doing something that was the norm for me!! What the heck was going on??
This was a pivotal moment in my life, and am glad the enemy throw this situation at me. It was at that moment when this “Holy Spirit that lives in me” thing became a sobering reality. I know this thought process was not of me and that the Holy Spirit must be real and was already doing a work in me!! Ya see, God’s word says in Rom. 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” God used something bad for His good and His glory.
I say all that to say this. Many people think that us “Believers” are supposed to be perfect and live a perfect life, and sure love pointing out our faults and claiming we are bigots and hypocrites because we don’t live up to THEIR standards of what they believe our life should look like. And yes, there are many hypocrites in the Church, but in reality, we are ALL hypocrites, believers and unbelievers alike!
Following Jesus doesn’t automatically make us perfect people who go through life sinless and blameless. Regeneration and sanctification is a lifelong process which will never be fully accomplished until out death and we are in our glorified bodies with Jesus! We don’t TRY to be good people and TRY not to sin, we walk out our walk with Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirt living in us to transform us one day at a time. For some this can be a radical immediate transformation, but typically it is a very slow process, but regardless it’s a process!
2 Cor. 3:18 – “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” With those few words—“from glory to glory”—Paul sums up our entire Christian life, from redemption and sanctification on earth, to our glorious eternal welcome into heaven. It’s a work in progress, but the end results are heavenly!