WE HAVE BEEN CHANGED
by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
Matthew 26:67, "Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him saying, 'Prophecy to us you Christ! Who is it that struck you?' Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, 'You also were with Jesus, the Galilean.' But he denied it before them all saying, 'I do not know what you mean.'" And that was the scene. They spat in Jesus' face and they struck him and slapped him and jived at him saying, "Prophecy to us you Christ", and Peter at the same moment said, "I do not know what you mean", when they charged him with being a follower. Now look at John 21:15.
John 21:15, "When they had finished breakfast", this was after the resurrection, "Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Feed my lambs.'"
That's Jesus. And you know that's what he has been to you. You and I know that's what God has been to us. We have slapped him in the face, we have denied him and he has kept coming back to us with patience and encouragement encouraging us to go on. That's what we've to be to each other.
Let God do the work of making our friends and our colleagues and our partners what he wants them to be. Our job is to be to them what God has been to us, always patient and encouraging. Why? Oh one plain reason. Second Corinthians 5:14, "For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died." And then verse 16, "From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." Because they've been changed, they've been changed.
The problem is not that our son or our daughter's not been changed; the problem is not that our roommate has not been changed; the problem is not that our husband or wife has been changed, they were changed in Christ. They were crucified with him and they were resurrected in him and they have been changed, they don't know it. They need help to know it. They don't need you bringing a cross that will only destroy them, the cross of your bright little criticisms or your bright little insights or your bright little innuendoes, they don't need that cross. That cross brings them only death. They need to enter into the cross in which they were included in Jesus. They need help to get into that.
That's why they need your patience and your encouragement. You're on a precipice almost vertical. It's slippy. There are few footholds but there is a rope hanging down and you know all your friend has to do is hang on to that rope. And then that rope will pull him up the cliff and then pull you, but the person in front of you, your friend above you, is kicking and scraping the dust and kicking the stones and dirt back in your face. Not for one moment do you yell at them and start telling them what they're doing wrong. You put your hand up under one of the feet that is kicking dust and dirt in your face and you endure it, and in patience you do it, and you encourage them. You say, "Reach up to that rope John, hold on to the rope and that will pull you up free", that's where we are. That's what we have to do with each other.
We've to help each other to see that we've been changed. You've been changed. That's great. What you've done that's great! That was good, and really meaning it in your heart. Not just doing it as a trick, but really meaning it in your heart. Believing that your friend has been changed and encouraging them to see they've been changed and helping them up and sometimes the dirt and the dust and the stones will hit you in the face. Sometimes like Jesus, you'll have to put your hand up because of the spitting and the beating and the blows, but with your other hand, you'll have it under them reaching up and helping them, "Come on, get up, you've been changed", that's it loved ones.