When I was about eight, we had a great teacher who introduced us to the mysteries of the unknown. It was called “Science” and I still have my copybook to this day, full of lurid pencil drawings and Bunsen burner flames coloured dramatically in red and yellow crayon.
A lesson that stuck in my (admittedlyunscientific) mind was the way one thing changed into another. We did the tadpoles into frogs routine, then the caterpillars into butterflies; we did the seed into sapling, And then we did chemical changes: one agent turning one thing into another. And then, one memorable day, we did the magnet and the iron filings trick, somewhat like the picture above. We scattered iron filings like bits of ash on a sheet of paper and then this invisible magnet moved beneath the paper and what was previously disconnected and random all stood to attention and rushed into an orderly pattern, like soldiers called to parade. Somehow, more than all the miracles I had hitherto witnessed, this topped the lot. I simply couldn’t believe it. This powerful agent had come into the lives of the humble filings and charged them into a whole new way of living.
Well, I guess you know where I’m heading with this. There is something truly remarkable about the life of Jesus that I have experienced in my own life. He once said “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.” Like a magnet, I thought.
And everything is utterly changed.
I was reading the verse for today on Bible Gateway in the Message version, (of which I’m particularly fond) and I noticed something I’d not seen before. Here’s the bit:
“Tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG)
I love the three metaphors that crowd together to tell the story about what Jesus does when he comes into someone’s life. It’s that transformative principle again . It’s like that magnet, changing everything by an inner and innate power.
First, the difference is “Night and day.” You have been translated from the Kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. It’s a change of vision. I can see clearly now. Once everything was confused and obscure. It was intimidating and frightening. Now it’s enjoyable. I can see where I’m heading. Once I was blind, but now I can see.
Second, you been changed from “Nothing to something” negative to positive. It’s a change of energy. Once there was nothing to build on. No resources. Like a mobile phone that showed me a red line and the word “Low battery.” Useless. No connection possible. But now, life has surged in, and I’m charged up and ready to connect. It’s a change of Substance. Once I was insubstantial, ghostly, but now there’s something substantial to build on. I’m still pretty much the same guy that made all those mistakes, but I’m not nothing. I’m me. Loved, drawn, chosen, happy.
Third, you once were “Rejected [but now]… accepted.” Even though once you were pushed away, now you have been drawn near. It’s a change of family. Oh, Val and I have spent years wiping the tears of orphans. Honestly. Life can give some cruel blows, can’t it?
But you are no longer an outsider. God is drawing you into his heart. The Hebrew word “adopted” literally means “held close.” You are a person of Value.
And the verse is pretty clear about what to do about this. Tell others! Tell ‘em about your change of vision, your change of value, your change of being, of substance.
Sometimes people get a little weird about the business of telling. And fair enough, no one wants to look like a snake-oil salesman. No one wants to be forced into pretending more than what is the truth. It can be a dangerous game, being a hypocrite..
But when someone is called to be a witness in a court of law they are simply required to stick to the facts. The lawyers will rebuke them if they stray from that line. Just say what you have personally seen and heard and done.
Well I can do that. I can say that once I felt without value but now I don’t. Once I felt that I couldn’t see any purpose to life, any direction, but now I do. And once I felt lacking the will to go forward, but now everything has changed.
You might not see it, but the magnet is moving beneath the paper and everything in my life is responding to the powerful impulse of that energy.
Jesus is alive.