What causes radical transformation in an individual?
I Googled this just now and found much of the data revolved around social or economic transformation. Change in an individual it seems is greatly related to one’s decision to conform (or not) to wider social changes. The desire to be like the masses motivates many. But what causes an individual to change apart from any sociological influences?
Psychological sources cite four types of motivators: Internal-positive, External-positive, Internal-negative, and External-negative. All of these, the literature says, require effort, dedication, a support network, and a conducive environment to bring success.
So what accounts for the sudden and dramatic transformations like the testimonies we heard this past Sunday at Lincoln Baptist Church?
Our guests were young men from the Village of Hope, “a faith-based residential drug rehab program, dedicated to helping men of all ages overcome life-controlling drug and alcohol problems.” One after another they testified to the transformations wrought in their bodies, minds and hearts through relationship with Jesus Christ!
Sceptics of course denounce such possibility, but what then can they put in its place? They become like the religious leaders trying to silence Peter and John but having to admit “truly a notable miracle has been done!” (Acts 4:16)
Thomas Chalmers was a Scottish preacher of the early 19th century. His sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” is a classic presentation of the power of Christ to transform. In it Chalmers boldly affirms that one’s love for sin is broken only by a greater love for Christ. As Chalmers puts it in 19th century vocabulary,
“The ascendant power of a second affection will do, what no exposition however forcible, of the folly and worthlessnes of the first, ever could effectuate.”
We see something of this principle at work when many a young woman motivated by the new affection, to please her new beau, finds motivation to diet and preen herself more than ever before. Or consider the willing endurance of the athlete in training motivated by the new affection of an Olympic gold coming into reach.
You see, we were made to worship. We cannot escape it. And if we have not made Christ it’s object we will lock in to almost anything else, regardless of how ineffective or damaging it may prove to be.
“Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart, that it must have a something to lay hold of and which, if wrested away without the substitution of another something in its place, would leave a void and a vacancy as painful to the mind, as hunger is to the natural system.”
Only Christ can fill that void. Only Christ can effect transformation like that experienced in the lives of Sunday’s speakers. And only Christ can transform you!