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The Same Me or the Changed Me by James Powell

Saturday, August 22, 2015 10:35
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I was going through my phone and came across some music written by a man I knew in college so I decided to listen to his music again. In one song, he was discussing the need for a personal change in his life. He talked through the idea that God needed to make a change within him because only God is able to make a new person out of the rubble of sin. During the chorus of this song, he used the phrase, “Don’t want to walk away from You the same me.” Of course, the “You” there was God. Thus, the musician’s attitude was an admission that he did not want to encounter God and walk away from that experience without being changed in some way. This is the idea of coming to God just as you are—a sinner—but walking away from that awe-inspiring experience a new creation because the holiness of God calls for such a change of character and behavior. Therefore, the encounter with holiness is the catalyst of change within the heart.

This line in this particular song caused my mind to spring into thought about all the people in Scripture who had an encounter with God. I thought of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Job, the disciples, and Paul. Each of these men encountered God in a particular situation, but when they walked away they were different. These men encountered God in a manner that forced them to leave that encounter with a different perspective, a new understanding, or a new identity. Take the Apostle Paul for example; he was a persecutor of Christians, he was present and giving approval at the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, and he was journeying from Jerusalem to Damascus in order to arrest those who were involved with Christianity. However, Acts 9 describes Paul’s transformation. On the road to Damascus, Paul had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ that knocked Paul to the ground and left him blind for three days. Acts 9:21 tells of Paul preaching that “Jesus is the Son of God.” After an encounter with God, Paul went from trying to end the movement that proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord to preaching the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. Later, in 1 Timothy 1:15-17, Paul described himself as being the worst of sinners. Paul understood the depth of his depravity, but he also understood the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s experience serves as an example, a picture of how God Almighty can change a life. However, Paul’s experience also shows how an encounter with God forces one to change his or her life. Paul’s encounter with God led him to surrender the remainder of his life to spreading the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. But the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22 is an example of a situation where an encounter with God caused a change in a negative direction. Matthew described a wealthy young man who approached Jesus asking for eternal life, but Jesus used the man’s love of money to show that he was unwilling to value the giver of eternal life over his wealth. Thus the man had an encounter with God in the flesh and walked away from that encounter remaining spiritually separated from God—his encounter forced him to make a choice. These two men give credence to the fact that an encounter with God is accompanied with a choice to move deeper in love with God or to remain in one’s current condition.

For a believer in Jesus Christ, one who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we experience an encounter with God daily through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but we should also be experiencing God through His word and through prayer. These experiences force one to make a choice between going deeper in a relationship with Jesus Christ or walking away from Jesus the same. My prayer is that we as the body of Christ would have an attitude described in the song above and seek to not walk away from “You the same me.” Let us approach God with the attitude that says, “God, I need for you to change me because you are the only one able to make my brokenness worth something.” However, let us also come away from an experience with God as an individual who seeks to honor God, walk with God, and proclaim God’s righteousness.

James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years.
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.


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