With the Great Commission, Jesus includes us in His mission to rescue a lost world. However, He can’t use us to rescue others if we’re in need of rescue ourselves. In our day-to-day lives, we often fail to see our need for transformation. We compare ourselves to each other and think we’re doing OK. We’re kind to those who are kind to us, and we feel justified to be unkind to those who are unkind to us.
God’s law requires us to love others — period! It makes no exception for how others treat us. When we return evil for evil, we become the authors of evil, and the penalty for sin is death. God’s still, small voice convicts us of our sins, but it’s easy to ignore His Spirit in our tumultuous world. Consequently, we don’t realize the peril we’re in. To gain perspective, we need some quiet time with God. In other words, we need a mountaintop experience.
We want to think of ourselves as good, not evil. However, Jesus told us that no one is good except God. Goodness doesn’t come from us; it comes from Him. That’s why we need a Savior. Jesus left the safety of heaven, not to rescue the righteous but to rescue those who would abandon Him, mock Him, and crucify Him. That’s who Jesus died for: us.
Transformation comes when we abandon our pretense of innocence and own our guilt. We kneel before the cross with nothing to offer but a broken spirit and a trust in God’s goodness. God will forgive us, not because we’re good but because He’s good. When we give our lives to Him, He gives us His good nature.
For me, this mountaintop experience came at a youth camp in Oklahoma when I was 14. I was under a canopy of mimosa trees, sitting on a blanket scratching chigger bites while our group was listening to a young pastor named Jerry Camero. He captured my attention when he started talking about the terror Jesus endured in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said that Jesus chose to remain in the garden even though He was so scared that He sweat great drops of blood. When Jerry described the brutality Jesus suffered on the cross, it seemed as if the rest of the group faded away. Then he told me that Jesus died in my place, to pay for what I’ve done.
At that time, I didn’t understand words like justification and sanctification. I just knew that I felt convicted for my sins that caused Jesus to suffer and die for me. I told Jesus I was sorry for all the things I’d done, and I asked Him to forgive me. I felt my guilt release into peace, and I knew I’d been forgiven. With my heart flooding with gratitude, that day I gave my life to the One who gave His life for me. In that moment, I became a new creature. I became a Christian and began to follow Jesus’ plan.
We all need transformation, and it happens differently for each of us. Thank God for His grace that brings it!
Jody McCoy is executive director of the General Conference and lives in Austin, TX.