Summary: "Change is good" but "transformation" is what God is looking for. Think the world and that is what you will become. If you have no plan for your life, Satan does!
Some of you who are readers of Christian books might have come across Norman Vincent Peale. Norman authored many books but his work entitled “The Power of Positive Thinking” has been translated into 40 languages and more than 20 million copies have been sold. In this book Norman recalls an incident when after one of his conventions, a man approached him and asked to speak with him about a matter of desperate importance to him. The two went backstage and sat down. The man said he had come to town to handle the most important business deal of his life. “But I don’t believe I can put it together” he said because “I am discouraged and depressed”. I listened to your speech tonight about the power of positive thinking and I want to ask how I can get some faith in myself. Norman said that it involved two steps. First it was important to discover why you have these feelings and then secondly to analyze them and get treated. “This will take a long time,” Norman said “but I have another formula that will give you immediate results”. “As you walk down the street tonight, I want you to repeat certain words that I give you. Say them over several times before your important appointment and do it with an attitude of faith and you will receive the ability and the strength to deal with this problem”. Norman then gave him the words from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. The man walked away repeating those words and later reported that this simple formula did wonders for him and that he completed the business deal successfully. He added, “It seems so incredible that a few words from the Bible could do so much for me”. Friends, I am suggesting this morning that you and I will become what we believe. There might be a bunch of problems that you are confronted with but if you approach them with an attitude of defeat, it will certainly turn out to be that way!
The man in the story that I just read to you, came to Norman with a certain ingrained “world view” that afforded no help to him in a time of crisis. Just like a cookie cutter that cuts the batter into a certain shape, this man’s thinking was shaped by the world’s cookie cutter. Every day, the world continues to mass-produce men and women that conform to its ideology. I am not suggesting that the world is so bad and that everything in and of it will lead us to ruin, but I am suggesting that many of its solutions to some of our vexing problems are useless. All of us have a certain world view. Our thinking is shaped by what we believe. Take President Bush for example. He made certain difficult and bold decisions with regard to war and dealing with terrorists even to the detriment of hopes for his re-election. But that was his world view which we all know is a combination of his faith and position as president. Take another example - Howard Stern. This man has defied and violated every ounce of decency but he thinks he is fine and there are many who will cheer him on. He believes in the decisions he makes and has become what he believes.
Today we have a few in folk in our congregation who have made decisions that will impact their lives. I believe that they deliberately stepped aside from a popular “world view” to embrace a “biblical view” in that they chose to become members of Christ’s holy Church! I am sure the decision was not easy - on the one hand you have a world and its many temptations and pleasures while on the other, you are called to a life time of service and dedication to Jesus Christ; the one you call Lord. Isn’t that amazing! Even though you might have to endure many things in being an authentic follower of Christ, you made a choice and this decision will mold you into what you believe. If you believe in living a holy life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that is what you will get or become. All of us made a similar decision in the past but we must exercise a little caution here because not everyone follows through with their commitments. That is why Jesus said “not every one who calls me Lord, will enter into heaven”.
A recent survey done by a Christian based research institute (Barnes) suggest that 9 out of 10 in America believe God exists but less than 1 of 10 allow Him to exist in their heart and lives! Of an estimated 218 million people in this country, 170 million call themselves Christians. 83 million of these are born again but only 7% (5.8 m) of these see the world through the eyes of Christ (little over 2 ½ % of the population). Even though we might be members of God’s Holy Church, the devil has this wonderful strategy to make us think like the world so that we take a path that leads us away from God. The world teaches you and me to go on doing the things that we feel like doing. But if this is what we are going to be doing, then our decision to follow Jesus was never serious. Think about this - what if some one watched you leave the parking lot and followed you through the week till you came back here again next Sunday or until the next time you are in Church; what can be said about you? Would your life style exemplify your commitment to Christ. Will God be so happy with the things that you do so that he can say “Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”?