I find it interesting to look at before-and-after pictures and see positive transformation of homes, objects, or people. We are the recipients of the world’s greatest before-and-after. We were once caught in sin and disobedience and enslaved to destructive forces both inwardly and outwardly that drove us toward living in harmful ways. But God changed us. God lifted us up in and with Jesus Christ, drawing us from slavery to freedom in Christ. This transformation is sometimes difficult to see in ourselves or others, especially when we experience behavior and attitudes that suggest destructive forces still enslave us.
The passage reminds us that the transformation wrought by God was not based on our efforts or merit. Only God’s love and mercy brings this change. This change, which was not done by us, cannot be undone by us. Once we accept Jesus’ life as the place from which we will live life and Jesus Christ as the one who will guide our lives, then we cannot escape God’s faithfulness to us. Even if we try to cover over that change or deny it by retracing destructive paths, the Spirit of God will daily remind us of who we are and where we are. We are raised up with Christ!
Our transformation in Christ is the beginning of our journey, not its end. God will not abandon us to anything that seeks to claim or reclaim our lives. We move forward each day with the knowledge that we inhabit a royal position, freed from every oppression and poised to follow Jesus in doing God’s work in the world. We have been transformed into signs of grace both to the world and to ourselves.
Thank you, gracious and loving God, for transforming me into a sign of grace. Amen.
Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.
• Read Numbers 21:4-9. When has your complaining distorted your sense of reality? How do you maintain a sense of God’s presence?
• Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. Consider implementing a practice of rising from sleep to give God thanks and to call to mind the many ways God works in your life.
• Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Does your sense of God’s salvation engender a sense of grace within you and a desire to do good? Why or why not?
• Read John 3:14-21. Do you consider yourself a creature of light or darkness? Why?
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