In 2006, Heroes hit the airwaves and took an unsuspecting public by storm with stories of young people with superhuman abilities duking it out and fighting for good. It was an immensely popular show (for two seasons at least), as young adults reveled in the idea of discovering hidden abilities within themselves that had remained dormant for years.
The mantra that Heroes introduced was a catch phrase that was repeated ferociously on the show, and in turn by millions of people across the country: “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”
Well I’d like to propose a new phrase: “change yourself, change the world.”
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)
Jesus spent countless days and hours with people, changing lives everywhere he went. Most of that time, he had his followers with him, training them for the inevitable moment when they would take the reigns after his departure. He knew that they would fall short countless times; his best friends betrayed him, and the others that loved him abandoned him. However, he never lacked faith in their ability to change the world.
The formula? Repentance. Personal change.
Jesus knew that we’d never be able to match up to his standard perfectly. But he knew that while his story would be the greatest known to man, each person would be able to change a life simply by making the kind of personal change that is inspiring to witness.
Changing Your Life
Personal change comes from a sincere understanding of what needs to be different, and why. After Jesus had risen from the dead, his followers, after spending time with their resurrected teacher, saw that the way they had acted was wrong. They were unfaithful friends, they had compromised what they believed in and conformed so they could avoid conflict with people. They understood what needed to be done, and in turn realized what message to pass on to others:
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:36-39 (NLT)
Experiencing a “cut to the heart” moment means seeing the truth about yourself, and letting it sink in long enough for you to do something about it.
When I was in college, I hurt more lives than I helped, despite my best intentions. My lowest point had to be when I took my best friend out drinking on multiple occasions after he had spent months trying to come clean off of abusing different chemical substances. This was the same friend whose family took me in since childhood, and who’s dad became a father to me when mine was not around.
Talking to his dad and admitting the truth about how I ruined his son’s chances at recovery was painful…something I’ll never forget. But it fueled in me a drive to change my life and never be that guy again. And I didn’t want anyone else to have to experience it either.
Changing the World
Once the people in Acts 2 realized what needed to be done, they went after it, without hesitation:
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Thousands of lives were changed in a single moment, all because a few guys decided to own up to their sin and do something about it. And this was just the beginning. As each person made significant changes in their lives, more and more continued to change as well as “the word of God continued to spread” (Acts 12:24).
And the Bible continues to talk about the power of personal change. Consider Paul’s instructions to his pupil Timothy:
15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NLT)
Time after time the Bible calls us to take personal change seriously, for the sake of those who we influence daily through our actions and speech. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What one area in your life, if you changed it today, would most inspired those around you?
- Who in your life would be most impacted by your change?
Everyone wants to change the world. Not everyone wants to change themselves. Make the latter happen, and the former is sure to follow.