By Lynell Caudillo works with the Calvary Presbyterian Church:
After selling his pickup truck, 22-year-old Westley C. French decided he wanted it back. So Westley and a few friends mugged the new truck owner, beating him with a 2×4. Then Westley and his friends fled the scene in their getaway car – a green Nissan 240 SX.
The muggers thought they had a foolproof plan to avoid police; they covered the green Nissan with a fresh coat of black spray paint. By changing their car’s color they were able to outrun the Washington state police for five hours. Unfortunately, as Westley and his buddies took off, they never bothered to change the North Dakota license plates. The police easily spotted their getaway car, apprehended them, and Westley was sentenced to one year in jail.
According to one news story, “Now he might be making license plates.”
Truth is stranger than fiction; this story was originally reported in the Bellingham Herald, Oct. 9, 2013. While this story is a little on the wild side, the truth is that we often think we can put up a good front and fool everyone. By changing the exterior paint job, these fellows thought they had solved their problem. But their problem went far deeper than the surface. Their problem was one that required a major change in attitude and action – a transformation, if you will.
It is one thing to make changes in the veneer – the exterior – or in the way we present ourselves to the world. It is quite another to experience real change or transformation in our hearts, that affects our attitudes and actions. What we really need is an “inside job.”
Jesus says: “A good person brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil one brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 6:45).
Each of us is born with a “heart condition” – a propensity to sin. The remedy is allowing the love of God to be “…poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:5,6,8).
God’s love can transform us from the inside out! Our hearts will be transformed and with the help of the Holy Spirit, our “insides” and our “outsides” grow to reflect an integrity of heart, attitude and action that makes sense. No longer ruled by self-centeredness, but by love for God and our fellow human beings, we are free to live with joy and justice in our relationships with one another. Thanks be to God!