As we enter into this New Year, many often do so with new goals and resolutions. Many have things they want to let go of from the past year, or things they want to do better. Ultimately they desire transformation. We all do.
As good as new fitness routines and diets may be, we have to realize full transformation requires more than that. It requires a life changing encounter with Jesus. Take a look at this story found in Mark 5:1-20
A story from God’s Word.
See there was this man who was possessed by evil spirits. He lived out in the cemetery and the spirits inside the man would make him do all sorts of things. He would run around day and night screaming and howling, and cutting himself with sharp stones. The people from the village would try to restrain him – chain him down, but he would just break them off. No one was strong enough to subdue him, so he was left on his own in the cemetery.
The man’s encounter with Jesus
One day he saw Jesus coming, and even while he was still some distance away, the man got up ran to Jesus, and bowed before him. Then the evil spirit spoke and said “Jesus, you who come from God, don’t torture us.” Jesus had asked what is your name, and they answered “Legion, or Many, for there are many of us inside this man”
Then they begged Jesus “please don’t send us to some distant land…” At that time there were pigs herding in a hill nearby, so the spirits asked Jesus “please send us into those pigs.” So Jesus gave them permission, and they left the man and entered the pigs. As soon as they did that, the pigs ran down the hillside and into the lake and died. There was about 2000 of them.
The people’s reaction
Immediately the men watching the pigs ran to the village to tell others what just happened. Then they came back with a crowd of people. When they got to where the man was, they saw that he was sitting with Jesus, fully clothed, and in his right mind. And they were all afraid. So they asked Jesus to leave.
Jesus got up to go, and the man he healed went up to him and asked “please take me with you.” But Jesus answered and said “No, go tell your family and friends what God has done for you.” So the man went home, and told up to ten surrounding villages, about what Jesus had done for him.
That is a story from God’s word (found in Mark 5:1-20).
How it relates to you and me
Now what does an event that took place thousands of years ago, have to do with you and me today? See whether you’ve experienced actual encounters with evil spirits or not, we can all relate to some aspect of the man in this story.
Much like the man who needed healing from this evil spirit, I too needed healing from sin. Though I tried to cover it up in a facade of good deeds or religious works – inside I was still so broken and hurting, crying out for help. I could turn to other things like exercise, diets, careers – all to look like I’ve got it all together. I could even turn to people with good intentions, but ultimately they were not enough to subdue the brokenness inside me nor provide what I truly needed; healing and transformation. That only occurred when I encountered Jesus in such a way that it changed my life.
See it’s not enough to just know about Jesus, read his stories and teachings, yet do nothing about it. A true encounter with Him means a close personal relationship with Him. When you have that kind of relationship with Him you will experience his undeniable power over any enemy or stronghold in your life. You will see he has authority over all the storms, spirits, disease, and death you may face. When you see all that – you can’t help but experience a whole transformation.
3 things to expect with your transformation:
When this kind of change happens in your life, it will require some things that may not be easy to face. Following Jesus is not promised an easy road. There will be moments of stepping outside your comfort zone and moving beyond your fear – to truly live for Jesus.
1. It will take boldness
Like the man Jesus healed in this story, though he wanted to go with Jesus, Jesus instead asked him to go and share what God has done for him. That’s exactly what he did. And he didn’t stop at just his family and friends, he went up to ten surrounding villages sharing what Jesus had done for him.
I know it’s not always easy to be vulnerable and share your story. It’s definitely not always easy to share about Jesus – but that’s why it takes courage and boldness. When we are able to move beyond our fears and take that step – it is so worth it. Jesus is worth us stepping up in boldness to tell others what He’s done for us, and for them.
2. It will require immediate obedience
The man went right away and did as Jesus had asked. Sometimes we want to wait till we’ve “learned a little more” or “had more experience” before we speak up about our encounter with Jesus. I know many who hesitate sharing something about Jesus because they don’t have the title “pastor” or didn’t go to seminary or some formal Christian education. But like this man – we all have something to share.
3. Some will be scared of your transformation while others are amazed
After Jesus healed the man, the people who came to the cemetery were afraid of what they saw. Instead of welcoming this amazing miracle – they asked Jesus to leave. Yet when the man started going around telling others what Jesus had done for him – people were amazed!
When whole transformation happens, people will notice. Some will not take it well. You may lose some relationships. But don’t be discouraged! It doesn’t make what happened to you any less real, or less significant. What Jesus has done in your life is real and amazing. Don’t let others’ fear of that change bring you down. Keep going, keep doing as Jesus asked and share your story. There will be people who will hear your story and be amazed.
In fact, your story could provide their introduction to Jesus.
So this new year, as you think about things you wish to do for yourself to get this transformation you desire – ask yourself –