Ever wonder why we keep hearing the same news over and over again? The last decade it seems we've become more informed faster, and yet things are getting worse instead of better. We know more, and yet even with this knowledge we continue to spiral.
More organizations are popping up to raise awareness and money to stop the problem, whether it's gun control, drug abuse, sexual assault, or hate crimes it doesn't seem to matter. We know more. We have more programs to offer support and help raise awareness.
Yet the problems persist.
People still hate people. Hurting people still hurt people. Anger and jealousy still run rampant, and nothing seems to change more than a fraction of a degree before it settles right back where it was - embedded deeper than before.
Here's the truth: nothing changes with information. Everything changes with transformation.
You can know a thing and not have it impact your perspective and your actions. James 2:19 says that even demons believe in one God and they shudder. Demons have a very thorough understanding of scripture and who Jesus is and they remain demons.
Knowing that smoking kills doesn't stop people from smoking. I smoked cigarettes for seven years knowing exactly what I was doing, and yet it wasn't the information that convinced me to quit.
In order for real change to take place, culturally, globally, we have to start individually. There has to be a transformation, a renewing of the mind that stems from a new heart that leads into a new life. Transformation isn't incorporation. It's not about taking new ideas and new methods and incorporating it into your old life.
Transformation means something has to die in order for something new to emerge. Something has to end in order for something different to begin. It's a word that comes from the Latin "trānsfōrmātiōn," which means "change of shape."
You can't change shapes without one shape disappearing.
Your mind cannot change shape unless you're willing to let go of certain ideas. The issues we have in society, the issues we keep creating programs for to raise awareness, are - at their root - a matter of what we believe and the actions that step out of our beliefs. A mass number of individuals with twisted beliefs creates a society with twisted behavior.
Change what you believe and you can begin to end what we're bringing to light. I'm not against raising awareness. Not at all! We don't know what needs to change until someone shines a light on the subject. But we can't look at the actions and think that by stopping behavior we've stopped the problem. The problem isn't behavior, it's the heart behind the behavior.
If you tell a drug addict to stop smoking dope but hand him a cigarette, you haven't stopped the problem of addiction. You've simply given him a new outlet for a belief he still has about himself. If you take a man who abuses his wife and hand him a punching bag, but never address the beliefs he has about himself that cause him to hurt other people, you haven't stopped anything. You've simply put a broken human being in a closet and shut the door.
Information doesn't change anything. Transformation changes everything.
Only Jesus Christ has the power to transform that deeply. It begins and ends at the cross. But it wasn't enough for me to know that Jesus died on a cross for me to save me from the consequences of my sin. I accepted this information, but it didn't change my life. It just meant I was secure for heaven, whenever death came for me. My life wasn't changed much, except that I was now feeling constantly indebted to God to be better and do better because of what He already did for me.
I lived under a cloud of stress, striving and insecurity, knowing I was constantly falling short but never knowing what else I was supposed to do.
The transformation began when I realized God didn't just send His Son to die on a cross to save me from my sin. He sent His Son as a ransom for me because He loves me. He paid the highest price that could have been paid in order for me to have a relationship with Him. The Disney stories of a prince fighting off dragons in order to get his princess is a mere shadow of what Jesus actually did.
Love transformed me. Love invited me into this realm of possibility and compelled me to live out possibility in my reality, because it really is possible. It's possible to live so wholly and completely loved that when a friend betrays you, you're not devastated. It's possible to live so completely secure in the love of the Father that when someone falsely accuses you, even ruins your reputation, you can hurt for them instead of be hurt by them.
It's possible to love your enemy and have it cost you nothing more than the old life you already crucified when you made Jesus Lord.
It's possible because in accepting the love of Jesus, and surrendering my heart and my life to Him in gratitude for His love, He took the old heart and gave me a new one. He took the old life, killed it on the cross, and gave me a new life. As Dan Mohler once said in one of his sermons, "People don't get under your skin anymore because you've got new skin. People don't hurt your heart anymore because you've got a new heart."
It's not that you suddenly become impervious to pain, but that the hurt stops being about you and starts being about Jesus. They don't know who they are, and Jesus died so they could find out and come into relationship with them. They need to know what Jesus did so they can see who they are.
Information shines a light. Transformation actually changes what is into what it was designed to be.
This means I can hear things that defame my character, hear false accusations against me and stand on what I know to be true; such words bounce off of the shield of faith I hold in my hand. Faith in what my God says about me, and about what He says He'll do for me.
I can watch people look at me with disdain, and I can walk into a crowd of people and feel the tension at my arrival like a noose around the neck, and slide out from its grasp with a smile and love for those around me. I can do it because Jesus already bore the condemnation others are trying to heap on me. He took the suffering and gave me love to give back out.
Is your life informed, or transformed? Are you smarter than you were a year ago, but still leading relatively the same life with the same perspectives? How do you love differently today than you did six months ago? A year ago? Five years ago?
Nothing in our world will change if we're relying on information to make a way. Information is only as useful as the hands that hold it. Until your heart is transformed by the only One who brings life from death, nothing will change.
So choose transformation. Choose Jesus. Choose love, and watch what He does with what you have after that.