If you have personally experienced the incredible power of God to transform your life you naturally want to see others have the same experience.
Transformation is a visible process.
For example, you can see the light or the sparkle restored to the eyes through hope. You can see shame lose its grip as people look in your eyes when talking to you instead of looking down. You can see their smile and hear the laughter where once only mourning and tears existed. We desire to help people experience the blessing of a transformed life. But what happens when someone you care about rejects God's invitation to live a different life through his power?
This past weekend at our Sunday morning gathering, I met a young woman clearly lost to a life of meth addiction and homelessness. The church I attend is located in a parking lot behind a local extended-stay hotel. The hotel is home to people down on their luck, prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless families with young children, and a host of others. Here the love of Jesus and the resources of God's Kingdom unite to work powerfully in the lives of people. People who long for their lives to be different are given the help they need to change.
No matter their current condition, if they want to get sober, find work or a permanent place to live, people and resources are immediately available to help. The key is they must want help.
The young woman wasn't sure how she ended up at the church service, but she was sure that being there made her want to know Jesus. Why? She experienced the love of God through his people. She was welcomed, fed, clothed, accepted and loved. Not only did she want to know Jesus, she wanted to overcome her addiction and have a fresh start. She wanted transformation.
We made plans to pick her up later that day to check her into a rehabilitation program. However, when the time came to pick her up she had disappeared. The opportunity to live a transformed life was trumped by the trash of her past. We were heartbroken for her.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you waited patiently for a friend or loved one to want change only to have them run from it at the last minute?
If so, don't despair. Jesus is the King of hope! He is constantly at work in the lives of people all around us. As partners in his Kingdom work our job is to watch for signs of where he is already moving and join him.
Consider the following thoughts as you enter into the messiness of others' lives:
Don't want it more than they do!
We often want transformation for others more than they want it for themselves. This causes feelings of frustration, disappointment and even anger which can result in withdrawal from the relationship. Keep your compassion in check. As much as we care and long for them to experience the transforming power of Jesus, remember the job of Savior is taken.
Give them power to choose!
Jesus gives people power to choose to do their own thing and we need to do this as well. Don't manipulate or guilt others into choosing something they are not ready for. Understand the only obstacle to living a transformed life is to believe it is possible. One must believe it in order to receive it. Belief is how we partner with Jesus. For those just beginning their spiritual journey, belief in Jesus and the desire for a transformed life must be stronger than the memories of their past failures. Jesus' work is transformative but they must choose to embrace it. Just look at what Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19 [AMP]:
18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity],
19 To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound].
All of Jesus' work is offered to us, not demanded of us. The good news must be accepted. Release for the captives and sight to the blind must be received. Freedom must be desired. In short, Jesus does not force his transformative work on us, he offers it. It is available for all who want to choose it.
Finally, be available!
Whether it takes minutes or years, don't give up. Continue to pray and be available to partner with Jesus and his Kingdom work. Know there is no circumstance too great to overpower the love of Jesus and no force too great to keep those he is drawing to himself away from him. Take heart and know Jesus is at work!
Cling to Philippians 1:6 (NASB), "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
While you wait, let your life be your witness and his love be your guide.
CJ Rapp is the founder of Unfading Beauty Ministries, national speaker and a women's issues expert. She has authored several books including "I AM Says, 'You Are…'" which guides women to discover their true identity as a beloved child of God.