At a Bible study we were diving deep into the words of a passage. Jesus had just healed someone and he told them not to tell anyone. I thought this was very odd. But after more digging, we discussed how, once the word got out, crowds were coming to Jesus to be healed. Jesus did not want to be known as a healer.
Transformation is Much Deeper than Healing
That didn’t mean Jesus did not continue to heal people. But the healing went much deeper than a withered hand, or disease, or some kind of physical malady. Jesus wanted people to transform. He wanted to give healing from the inside out.
Here are two stories of transformation. One from Scripture and the other a modern day transformation story.
The Woman at the Well – Living Water
The woman at the well in John’s gospel is an example of transformation. Jesus was far from being politically correct. Women did not associate with men. Jews did not associate with Samaritans of any gender. In this instance, Jesus does both.
He stops at the well to have a drink. Jesus requests a drink from the Samaritan woman. She says to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria? Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” He goes onto explain that anyone that drinks this water will never be thirsty again.
She, of course wants this water. So he tells her to get her husband, knowing that she doesn’t have a husband. Then he proceeds to tell her that she has had five husbands. She is incredulous and says, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus says to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” She believes him.
She leaves to tell others and brings them back to Jesus. They believe and said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have ears for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” Samaritans to believers. This is transformation.
A Soldier’s Modern Day Transformation Story
The single biggest example I can give of a modern day transformation is Louis Zamperini. His story is told in the best-seller Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Louis was a World War II bombardier whose B-24 plane crashed into the ocean. There he endured 47 days floating on a raft, fighting off sharks, experiencing starvation and dehydration. He and one surviving crew member were “rescued” by the Japanese. Then he was thrown into a prison camp and tortured until the end of the war.
This was one of my favorite books of all time. With every chapter I could not believe what Louie had to endure. It’s not a depressing read, even though it sounds very depressing.
A movie was made about Unbroken but left out the transformation story at the end. When Louie was in the raft at sea, he made a vow to God that if he was saved, he would serve him.
When the war comes to an end, Louis and his fellow POWs are rescued. He returns home a hero.
But war does not stop. It rages within his mind and soul. Louis remains tortured by the images and experiences that he suffered. He turns to alcohol to numb the pain. He has fits of anger. One night was so severe that in a dream state he found himself on top of his wife strangling her. In his mind Louis was killing his worst captor.
At that point, he knew he needed help to purge his demons. He was encouraged to attend a Billy Graham Crusade. At first he didn’t want to listen and he walked out. But he remembered that day in the raft when he told God that if he saved him, he would serve him. Louie went back and received Christ into his heart.
Since that day, Louie never had another nightmare. He poured all of the alcohol down the drain. He no longer needed it. He had been transformed by Jesus Christ. He had “living water.” Louie spent the rest of his life speaking and sharing the love of God and of Jesus Christ.
Louis was a walking example of Christ as he went back to Japan to forgive all of his captors. Louis practiced love, compassion, and forgiveness in such a huge way. He recently died at the age of 97 just before the movie came out. (He did get to see the movie.)
As Christians Our Job is to Help Others Transform.
Louis Zamperini’s life was saved. Salvation is much greater than a promise of heaven. Louis was saved on earth. As a result his family was saved, and others were saved by his transformation.
It is a gift that God gives us to transform. We are to help others transform. The most effective way for us to do that is to show up as the example of Christ with love, non-judgment, compassion, and understanding.
May you know the power of transformation and own the words by the Apostle Paul who said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Romans 12:2
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
For Jesus, everyone is a potential butterfly. May you transform day by day to become all that God created you to be.
Unbroken is a timeless story. Did you read it and/or see the movie? Please share your thoughts below.
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