Before and After
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
You’ve seen them – those before and after photos used in commercials to promote a diet or exercise program. In the before picture, the man or woman is always overweight, while the after picture reveals the amazing transformation that is can be yours if you buy in. You can have this. Most of us have looked at those before and after photos and thought, I look like the before picture. Maybe I should join so I can look like the after photo.
If you’ve ever bought in, then you’ve placed at least some belief in the product. If you’re like me, you’ve discovered that simply buying in doesn’t automatically produce the results you’d hoped for. Between the before photo and the after photo is a lot of doing. Believing in the plan is one step, but for transformation to occur, our behavior must change in accordance with our belief.
In today’s passage, Christ made a beautiful promise to his followers. He said that he would give them eternal, abundant life and that no one could snatch them away from him. When I read this passage, I think, I want that. I look at Jesus’ promise like I’ve looked at the after photo of those commercials and I think, I’m buying in. I have approached both my faith and recovery with this attitude. I want the end product, but I don’t really want to have to do anything to get there. I just want to buy in with belief and then expect that – presto! – I get the results I want.
The first verse in today’s passage though, says that the second verse is only for those who follow Jesus. Those who receive his abundant, eternal life are those who follow him. First, we must believe, but for that belief to truly become faith, for transformation to occur, we must live out that belief.
We aren’t saved by what we do. We can’t earn God’s love or forgiveness. Those are freely given by grace and received through faith. If our faith is real though, then it must be expressed in action by abandoning ourselves and following Christ. To get from the before to the after, we must follow him.