The startling evidence of a changed life

The startling evidence of a changed life

At the end of Matthew 15, we come across a few short verses that summarise Jesus’ ministry in a mainly non-Jewish area of northern Israel. We read this:

29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. (Matt. 15:29-31 ESV)

The crowd that came to Jesus had all kinds of serious problems. Some couldn’t walk and were being carried; others could not see or speak. It was like the worst hospital emergency department you have ever come across. We get so used to these summaries in the gospels that we can miss the impact of what is happening here. “He healed them”. Jesus healed all of them. Every one. No problem was too hard for Jesus.

Think about the evidence that this crowd saw that day. They saw blind people being led in to Jesus by friends and walking out, seeing where they were going. They saw crippled people being carried in to Jesus and then walking out unassisted. This was so remarkable it led them to glorify the God of Israel. That word ‘glorify’ means something like ‘praise’ here; they praised God. The reason they called God the “God of Israel” was because they were mainly non-Jewish. They knew these changes they saw with their own eyes must be from God. There was no other explanation.

When someone is converted to trust in Jesus, the change in their lives is also remarkable. I have seen some startling changes in people. Muslim women have stopped wearing their scarves and started wearing crosses around their necks. Previous heavy drinkers have become sober. Selfish, proud people become the first people to help others. The changes that the Holy Spirit makes in people’s lives are incredible.

A life that is fundamentally changed by Jesus is evidence to those around you that Jesus is real. In fact, a consistent Christian life lived amongst non-Christians is probably the most convincing piece of evidence you can show someone that our faith is real. Think about this. Your work colleagues and your unbelieving families have probably never gone to church or read the Bible. Unless something happens to make them do this, they maybe never will. They need to see evidence there is something to Jesus. That evidence might be you.

Me, you think? I’m just an ordinary Christian. Yes, but ordinary Christians are powerful evidence of the power of God. It is like you walked to Jesus blind and walked out seeing. You might not think your life is anything special, especially if much of your social circle are Christian. But there are many aspects of an ‘ordinary’ Christian life that will stand out in our world. When someone treats cleaners and waiters with the same honour as their boss, that is unusual. When someone helps out at their church and in their community when there is no reward for doing so, that is unusual. When someone is confident in the future, even in a pandemic, that is unusual.

The example of ordinary Christians may well make others want to look deeper. Who knows? Maybe they will even come to glorify the God of Israel. Keep at it. Everyday faithfulness can have a much bigger impact than you expect.