"180 Degrees-Evidence of Transformed Thinking" Pastor Gus Lohrum
180 Degrees - Evidence of Transformed Thinking
January 27, 2019
Today is the final sermon in our Matters of the Mind series. We have been hitting the scriptures that teache us to grow in our thinking/outlook that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Our goal is to grow in attitude or a mindset that is more like Jesus.
Last week we considered the topic of repentance. I hope from that message you were exposed to biblical principles that present repentance as a response from us to God’s grace; instead of repentance being focused only on our sin or what we do wrong.
Today I want to conclude the series with using a story from the gospel of Mark that is bizarre; but might fit us better than we think. I think this is a great story of a man whose life direction changed 180 degrees because of Jesus. I hope we can see in his story three key components we can use to evaluate whether we are following God’s leading and truth.
Read Mark 5:1-9
Mark 5 goes on to tell us Jesus cast out legions or thousands of demons from this man. Now keep in mind this demonic man had three strikes against him.
He was a gentile – He was not Jewish, and in the culture of that day it would have been unlikely for him to have contact with someone who was Jewish.
The man lived in the unclean environment of a cemetery, the tombs. Jewish customs had strict teaching about coming in contact with people who had died. This man was constantly exposed to the dead.
He was possessed by demons – people didn’t want to go near him. It’s a no brainer; a guy like this is not hosting a super bowl party.
But the scriptures tell us, Jesus came and freed this man from his agony.
One quick note – A story like this reminds us, no one is too bad for the love of God because the reach of God’s power on people is unlimited.
All human efforts to bind and restrain this man, but Jesus was able to conquer him.
Definition of Demonic
I once heard several years ago, New Testament scholar, Walter Wink say, “the demonic is anything that has fallen from it's God given purpose.”
God gives us abilities and we chose not to use those – we 're fallen.
God gives us opportunities and we chose not to walk through those doors of opportunities – we’re fallen.
God gives us relationships for his purposes, and we can fail to lean into those relationships to discover their God given meaning – we' re fallen.
Maybe we have more in common with this cat hanging out in the tombs than we think.
But we see this man do a 180-degree turn in his life because of the love and power of God unleashed through Jesus. I want to point out three components in his story that can reveal whether our relationship to God is experiencing a 180-degree transformation.
Based on Mark 5
The first component is that moment when God’s truth is comprehended into our hearts or minds. Some refer to this moment of insight as the “ah ha” moment, epiphany or perhaps enlightenment.
But if those words don’t sound like what most of us might describe as the starting point of change - good! Because in the process of responding to the grace of God, repenting-moving in God’s direction, we need to make room for how our initial response to God can include some rough edges; instead of sounding like a Hollywood script to a cheesy movie.
Jesus approached the man and the man’s response was
“What have you to do with me…do not torment me.” V.7
This at first glance is not a neat warm and fuzzy example of repentance and someone’s response to Jesus. But this guy going from demon possessed to telling others about Jesus is about as much of a 180-degrees change of life you can make. His response to the power of God in the presence of Jesus and the truth that can set him free, contained questions, fear and struggle.
I love it.
We’re not alone as the truth of God begins breaking through our mental shields, reasons or explanations why we think, live and do what we do.
Or don’t do what we should do,
And sometimes our initial response to God getting through to us doesn’t have us immediately singing, "How Great Thou Art " or "Shout to the Lord". Sudden moments of complete insight and acceptance of God’s love and goodness happen. I have experienced moments like that; but sometimes godly truth breaking through to us can have us torn and squirming in willingness in how to respond to God.
We’re like the demonic – in some situations maybe we ask, “Jesus why should I step up and apologize; they started the fight, I merely finished it.”
“God, I have worked for what I have, why should I be any more generous than I already am?”
There is that moment when “the implanted word of truth” like we heard from James last week, like a seed in soil, begins to come out of its shell and gets our attention.
But a 180-degree turn means there will be that initial moment of responding to the truth and presence of God.
A second component is the increasing agreement with God, a growing comprehension for the need to have God be in the leadership role of our lives and for us to be in the role as follower.
Mark says that after Jesus sent the demons into a herd of pigs which ran off a cliff, the man who was freed of demons was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
The townspeople urged Jesus to leave. Most scholars point out the contradiction of how the townspeople were upset more about their financial losses in the pigs; rather than being grateful a neighbor was healed.
How many of us would write a check today for all we owned if a loved one could be healed in some way such as restored in their mind or body?
Then, Mark tells us “As he (Jesus) was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him (Jesus) that he might be with him.” V.18
The man whose first response to a word from the Lord, questioned why Jesus was disturbing him; now begs to go with Jesus.
The motivation in the man increased to the point he desired to go with Jesus; and not be satisfied to just receive something from Jesus.
Don’t you hear in this story the principle of the Sower and Seed parable where the seed that fell into good soil grew while the seed that fell in less-desirable places was wasted. Jesus used that parable to remind us how the truth of God needs to grow in us and if it is; it will produce fruit.
The evidence of true repentance, a 180-degree change in our lives is that our motivation grows to understand more about God and be a part of whatever God is doing.
You can know your change of direction is genuine if you have that growing, intensifying desire to have more of the essence of Christ in you. You want to sit with him and go with him. Think of that a little later when Lana sings, Give Me Jesus, a great song that captures the heart and desire of the man standing by the boat of Jesus.
Third step/component of 180-degree change is obedient movement or action to what God has revealed and what we claim to be true.
Mark tells us how Jesus responded to the man. “But Jesus refused and said go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you. And he (the man) went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.” Vs.19-20
Don’t pass this point up.
Jesus tells him, no. No, you can’t come with me. Jesus said no to this man’s idea. Even though Jesus tells him, no – the man obeyed the direction and instruction from Jesus. This anonymous disciple set off to spread the word about what Jesus had done for him.
Wouldn’t you think this guy might have been shocked and perplexed that his offer to go with Jesus was rejected.
I mean, Jesus invited tax collectors to follow him who had cheated people as they gathered taxes for the government. Jesus invited people like that to eat with him and follow; but says no to this man.
The man could have gotten his feelings hurt. But Jesus told the man to go to his own neighborhood and “tell them how much the Lord has done for you.”
Movement in obedience, “being doers of the word” as God leads is the third and critical component of making that 180-degree change.
In some ways this is not a bizarre story at all because haven’t we all had hopes and expectations that God would work one way, let us do what we planned to do; but instead the divine direction was not what we expected. God gave us alternative steps – and the question is did we obey or go back to our old ways.
The 180-degree change requires obedience; not just agreement or even excitement’ but obedience.
Evidence of the mind of Christ in us is obedience even when the direction is not what we expected, desired or feels comfortable.
Moment, motivation and movement - we need all three to be as James says, doers of the word’ not just hearers – doer’s will be blessed by God.
Moment, motivation and movement reveal the mind of Christ growing in us.
James 1:22-25 “Be doers of the word and not merely hearers only, who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers only and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror, for they look at themselves, and on going away immediately forget what they are like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing.