“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” I Corinthians 15:51-52, NIV
We have all had the experience of shopping for something and finding just the right item across the room while searching for it in a store. Excited, we hurry over. We can tell it will be just right. It’s the right color, the right style, and the right size. We can almost see it in our home where it will finish off the décor perfectly. But our excitement is abruptly replaced with disappointment as we come to the item and see a “Sold” notice fastened to it. With sadness we turn away as we realize this item will be in someone else’s home, not ours.
The devil must feel something like that when he encounters someone who has a living relationship with Jesus. The Bible tells us we have already been sold. As Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthians, “you were bought at a price…” 1 Corinthians 6:20, NIV That price was paid by Jesus on the cross. It was the price of love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NIV
God beat the devil to the sale. The Bible says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4, NIV You see the price for our sale was determined and arranged by God before we were even created. God knew that mankind was perfect for a place in His home.
Unlike the object we saw in the store, however. We can choose to remove the “Sold” label God has placed on us. We can choose not to go to His home. We can do this in several ways. We can choose not to accept the label in the first place. We can say, “This is not the right owner for us. We will wait for another.”
Since there are only two shoppers in this store, we will then end up being sold to the devil. The devil is a sharp bargainer. He never pays full price. He never sees our worth as God sees it. He will point out our flaws and how hard it would be to fix them. In the end, he argues the price way down and then does not even pay up front. He loves credit. He puts us in his truck and drives down the road full of promises to pay, but he never does. By refusing God’s purchase, we end up sold for little or nothing.
We might also refuse to go to God’s home by doing all we can to demonstrate that we just don’t fit there. When our Owner tries to take us one way, we choose to go another. When He tries to speak to us, we refuse to listen. When He places a cloth over us to hide our flaws, we can refuse to wear it. We can even flaunt our flaws, acting as though we are proud of them. Even though we belong to Him, we can do everything we can to hide the fact.
The strange thing is that God never gives up on us. As many times as we might choose another path, He stands ready to show us the way to His place. As many times as we refuse to listen to Him, He still continues to speak to our hearts. As many times as we remove the cover that hides our flaws, He keeps trying to put it back on. He hopes we will eventually agree that we look better with our flaws covered. His patience with us is infinite.
Another thing that is amazing about all this is that He does not do this because of the very high price paid for us, but because He loves us. He loves us so much that He would be heartbroken if we were not with Him. The Bible puts it this way, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 NIV You see God does not love us because He paid a high price for us. He paid a high price for us because He loves us.
And that cloth he keeps trying to put on us? That cloth is the perfect character of Jesus. He wants us to wear it because it looks better on us than our flaws do. When a man and a woman are in love, the man wants his lady to look great, and the woman wants her man to look great as well. God is in love with us, and He knows we will look great in the character of Christ. He knows that we will see it also. He knows that when we see how we look in Christ’s character, we will feel so great about ourselves that we will do all we can to make our character like His.
The Bible describes it like this, “…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:9-10, NIV By choice, we can experience this change as Paul said in his letter to the Romans. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
Elsewhere, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV But this transformation is not a work we can accomplish in and of ourselves. No, this transformation, just like the cloth of Christ’s character, comes from God.
When we are introduced to Jesus, we want a relationship with Him. Then that relationship, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, awakens in us a will to be like Him. We try to do that on our own, but that does not work. In frustration, we finally come to God and confess our failures and allow Him to do what we could not. Then He begins to transform us. He builds us up where we need building up and prunes away what is hindering us. He is very patient. He works as fast or as slowly as we are able to go.
Like a craftsman working on a fine piece of furniture, he burnishes and polishes us until we reflect all the light He shines on us. He sees in us the beauty that we cannot see in ourselves and lovingly brings it out where all can see it. I cannot help but love a God like that. I want Him to take me home to his house and polish my character to make that possible. Don’t you?
Editor’s note: The Bible includes many analogies of salvation because no single analogy can capture the fullness of how God saves sinners. In this post the author explores the analogy of a purchase, as Bible writers do in Ps 74:2; 1 Cor 6:20; Rom 7:14; 1 Cor 7:23; Acts 20:28 and Eph 1:17. (Note that in this analogy, there is no seller. Only we can sell ourselves to Satan.) You can probably think of other analogies. Please feel free to share them.