Once I started a church here in Europe and right from the start the second-worst female singer in the world joined us. The worst followed shortly afterwards. That’s probably an exaggeration but if you can imagine an off-key opera warbler and a hyperactive soprano in the same small room, you might have an idea of why our song services were so memorable.
Even if it was a slow song, this one lady went at it as if she were singing the William Tell Overture (the Lone Ranger theme for you lowbrows). The other was shooting for the Hallelujah Chorus but her blows were landing all around the target. The rest of us just kind of muddled through and hoped for better days.
I don’t want to say I prayed for an epidemic of sore throats, but if one had to come and I could choose who it would strike, it wouldn’t have taken me two heartbeats to make my choice.
Oh, how I wished for change. Can it really happen? Can God really make us different?
If you’re talking about singing, well He can but He probably won’t. He’s given the poor singer other gifts to compensate. But there are big possibilities in other areas. Our character can change. We really can be like Jesus.
Can Change Really Happen?
The word sanctification describes this change. It means to be set apart for God. Often the Church has had a hard time understanding how that works out in everyday life. We used to have a whole list of things you couldn’t do if you were really sanctified. I still believe there are places that people who love the Lord don’t go and things they don’t do or say.
But the problem was that many of the folks who weren’t doing the things on the ‘not to-do list” felt like that was mostly all God wanted. Sanctification is much more than that. It engages your whole life in a quest to be like Jesus in every fiber of your being.
How in the world can you do that? We’re all a long way from perfect.
Well, we’re sanctified, set apart for the Lord, the moment we put our faith in Jesus to save us.
‘As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.” (from Hebrews 10, the Message version).
So God has already set us apart for Himself to live a pure life and show the world how He really is by the way we live. But how does that work out day by day for those who don’t feel very perfect?
Theologians say that sanctification is instantaneous and progressive. We are sanctified when we’re born again by the Spirit of the Lord. But each day, the Lord Jesus is working more and more in our lives to make us more like Him.
How do we become more like Jesus each day?
Read His Word every day and think and reflect on what you read. My wife loves puzzles. I hate them. She figures it’s because I’m color blind and can’t always see the differences in the pieces. I figure it’s because I’m impatient.
But, if I really did want to assemble a puzzle, I guarantee you I would look at the picture on the box. Can you imagine someone who dumps 2000 identical puzzle pieces on the table and goes at it without even knowing what the finished product looks like?
How do you know what God expects from you if you don’t look at the ‘picture” ”” His Word. Read it, think about it, and act on it in faith and you’ll begin to resemble what you read.
Then trust God’s Spirit to change you. We can change a certain number of things if we really want to, but others seem so ingrained that it would take a miracle for us to change. Bingo! (Excuse the gambling reference). Just like salvation is a miracle that comes from God, so is sanctification.
He changes hearts that turn toward Him in faith, believing that He will make them different.
‘As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.”(1 Cor. 6:9-11, Contemporary English Version)
His Word and His Spirit activated by our faith changes us day by day into His image– though we may still shake the rafters and provoke dog howls when we sing. _____________________
Hmm”¦ He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said – not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone – “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” (Itzhak Perlman, after masterfully finishing a concert with three strings when one of his violin strings broke)