Inward Change Shows Up on the Outside
Change on the outside always shows up as a result of change on the inside. To illustrate this truth, I want to relate a story written by Jim Carattini, an associate with Ravi Zacharias Ministries. Caratitini tells the amazing story of someone who is in the business of erasing the past. Father Greg Boyle, or G-Dog as he in known in his East Los Angeles neighborhood, is a Jesuit priest who has put together a team of physicians trained in the laser technology of tattoo removal. The team is part of a program that takes the tattoos of ex-gang members and wipes the slate clean. For many, it is as crucial a service as it is merciful.
Gang-related tattoos prevent many former gang members from getting jobs or advancing in work. For others, the markings critically impinge on mental health or put them in serious danger on the streets. There is no fee or community service required to receive the tattoo removal offered by Homeboy Industries. It is strictly a gift—perhaps a modern look at Christ washing the feet of his friends. Currently, there is a waiting list of over a thousand names.
For those involved, the spiritual imagery is often compelling. The seeming permanence of a gang tattoo fosters the attitude that the gang's claim is also permanent. It is a mark of ownership as much as identity. The emotional consequence is that it seems a part of you that can never be shaken.
I suspect some of us have felt like this with past mistakes—sins whose mark we cannot shake off, though we know we have been cleansed by Christ. Perhaps the imagery of tattoo removal can evoke a renewed sense of our blessed assurance. Like former gang members who have had the marks of a former life removed, so our sins are blotted out by the blood of Christ. They are remembered no longer.
One of the curious things about the growing list of people interested in laser tattoo removal is that Father Boyle is straightforward about the procedure. The process of tattoo removal is extremely painful. Patients describe the laser procedure as feeling like hot grease on their skin. And yet the list grows, each name representing a life that longs to be free and is willing to endure the pain to seize it (Source: http://www.preachingtoday.com).
Change on the outside always shows up as a result of change on the inside. But we all know the truth about ourselves. We’re far from perfect. We sin daily. So, what’s wrong with us? Why do we fail so often? If we’re supposed to be butterflies, soaring above sin, why are we still crawling?
This week I want to close this series in Ephesians 4 by focusing on the all-important point where the rubber meets the road. In this series, we’ve seen the necessity for inside out change. We’ve examined what we are being changed into. And last week, we saw the inner power that fuels lasting life-change. This coming Sunday, I want to talk about how to plug into that power, how to put everything we’ve seen so far into motion so that we experience more victories than defeats, becoming more like our Savior than the world.