My least favorite advertising campaign these days is by Lowe’s, which says, “Never stop improving.” I hate that because I get tired of always having a running list of things that need to be repaired or renovated or replaced in my house. I wish I could get to a point where I say, “Done! No more work to do here! The house is perfect!” But that day will never come. And that is true of us as well: As long as we live in this world, there will be something we need to change.
We’re talking all this year about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the real world. Periodically, we’re checking in on Peter, the most famous of Jesus’ disciples. We talked about how Peter was able to walk on water because Jesus said He could, and we looked at how each one of us is qualified by that same Lord to make a difference in the world, if we use our spiritual gifts to serve Him. Today, I’m starting a series called “A New You.” Imagine someone were to ask you, “What is salvation?” Most likely, you would answer, “It means that when I die, I don’t pay for my sins, because Jesus already did. I have a home in Heaven bought by the grace of God.” That’s true, but the New Testament definition of salvation is much bigger than that. When you read the New Testament (not just Christian gospel tracts and sermons) you see the primary thing God saves us from isn’t Hell…it’s ourselves. Richard Blackaby puts it this way: “The essence of salvation is an about-face from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.” Salvation is an event: Once you believe in Jesus, you are His forever. But it’s also a process, and that is what most of the New Testament is about: Not just saving souls from Hell, but transforming each of us from selfish fools into people who love God and others first. As Lowe’s says, Never stop improving.
So right now, think of something about your character you wish were different. Is there anything about you which, if it were to change for the better, your family and friends would thank God for it? Is there anything about yourself which brings you guilt and shame? Be specific. The good news is, that’s something God is already working on. In this series, we’ll talk about our part in that process. But in this sermon, I want to start by looking at a key event in Peter’s life that changed the way he thought about how transformation happens (Mark 9:2-10).