One of the great debates of our age is the question: Does Jesus love me just as I am, or does He expect me to change?
While the cultural context of that question is itself always in flux over the years, Jesus consistently brings all sorts of change into the lives of all sorts of people.
Some examples of transformation in Luke 5:
- A change in vocation: Simon goes from being a fisher of fish to a fisher of men. (Along with a change in name to Peter)
- A change in appearance: A man who was "covered" with leprosy dares to approach Jesus and ask Him for a healing. Jesus obliges, actually touching the leper and making him immediately clean.
- A change in spirit: A paralyzed man is carried to Jesus by four friends. When they cannot get close enough to Him, they alter the roof of the house to lower him before Christ. Jesus surveys the situation and takes care of the man's biggest problem: forgiving his sins! (After that miracle, Jesus works another and heals his paralysis.)
- A change in character: Another disciple is found in Levi, who goes from being a despised tax collector to one of Jesus' inner circle. When criticized for His companions, Jesus specifically calls attention to the work of transformation He is doing: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Did Jesus not love these people until He worked a change in their lives? I would argue No, His love for them preceded His actions in every case. But Jesus also loved these people too much to leave them struggling with the problems and issues that were less than God's best for their lives. He introduced change in their lives to bring them into alignment with God's will.
In fact, the only people who seem to emerge unchanged after an encounter with Jesus were the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They rejected what Jesus was bringing into the world because it didn't fit with their preconceived notions. His ministry was "new wine" that was a mismatch with the old "business as usual" approach that we naturally find so comforting.
There is good news here: God loves you! But there is also challenging news: He's not going to leave you alone. When Christ beckons you to join Him, change is in the air.