“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2
Charles called the adult Sunday School class to order as he sipped his latte and sniffed the fresh donut in his hand: “Good morning everyone and to those who made it to the opening night play on Saturday…wasn’t that a hoot?”
Many in the class applauded with enthusiasm, smiling and sharing brief words of encouragement. As they settled down Charles said, “Now I know there was some coarse language scattered here and there, but I think we are all adult enough to put those things out of our minds and just enjoy the brilliant performance. After all, it’s not every day that our city presents professional stage performers of this caliber. Am I right?” Again, lots of enthusiastic response.
“And before I forget,” Charles continued, “mark Saturday the 25th on your calendars for the annual Rent-a-Slave auction. Last year was probably the best so far and we hope the women will loosen their purse strings this year because we have a few of those hunky firefighters who adorned the latest calendar pages up for bid!” At that the class broke into laughter and thigh slapping which, unfortunately knocked Stella’s soy latte to the newly installed beige carpet.
Then one of the new class members stood and spoke, “Can I ask a question?”
“Of course,” Charles said, wiping tears of laughter “go ahead Rick.”
“I’d like to read a verse from James 4:4…” Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”
Silence swept over the class!
“Maybe we have allowed ourselves to slowly walk away from the Lord, to make friends with the world. Here is another verse from 1st John 2:15-17…Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever.”
Some in the class hung their heads, wondering what path they had taken and why they’d become so callous toward God’s righteousness. But others sat rigid, stiff-necked, fighting against those feelings, waiting for Rick to stop talking.
“And in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 18 and 19…If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you.” Rick sat down and prayed, wondering what would happen and if he would be welcomed back to this class.
Then Simon stood and said, “I’d like to read from Romans 12:1-2…So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”
By now, tears were streaming down faces, heads were bowed and repentance was in the air. Charles left his place at the podium, sat his coffee and donut aside and knelt in prayer, seeking God’s forgiveness. The class went from jovial, worldly approval to Godly redemption, calling upon the Lord, laying aside worldly cares and pleasures.
After several minutes, Charles stood, Bible in hand and read from Romans 13:12-14, “The night is nearly over, day is almost here. Let us stop doing the things that belong to the dark, and let us take up weapons for fighting in the light. Let us conduct ourselves properly, as people who live in the light of day—no orgies or drunkenness, no immorality or indecency, no fighting or jealousy. But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires.”
“Class, I have guided you down a sinful, self-gratifying road and wish to repent,” Charles said. “We can no longer allow ourselves to walk in the flesh as we have been doing. We are grieving almighty God. Read with me in Ephesians 4:22-24…So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”
“Thank you, Rick for exposing our sinful behavior. As for me, I am kneeling to pray, asking God to forgive me. I don’t know how long I will be here praying, just leave when you must.” At first the class was stunned by Charles’ show of repentance. And then, many of the class followed suit, kneeling in prayer. The Holy Spirit swept through that class, bringing true repentance.