People need to be changed on the "inside"

Have you noticed that every time there’s a General Election in the UK, our news programmes virtually stop reporting anything else that is happening in the world? For days at a time our news programmes cover little else except a coming  lection and its aftermath.   With such widespread coverage one might be tempted to think that nothing more ever needs to be said on the issue – that every angle gets covered but sadly this is far from the truth.  What is NEVER acknowledged is that no matter what government may be in power, they can only tinker around with “the symptoms of the disease”, not the actual “cause” of the illness.  Our nation is very sick – its symptoms are severe, unemployment, debt, violence, crime and yob behaviour to mention but a few.  Governments can dabble at lessening these things, but no more than that, because until the actual cause of those symptoms is dealt with, the illness will never be cured.  So what is the real answer to our national ills?   The answer was summed up some years ago by a Christian who was being heckled as he was preaching at a street corner.  A crowd had gathered to listen to his message.  As he was telling the crowd about Christ and following the Christian way someone shouted, “Only the government will put a new jacket on your backs”.  The preached  responded, “ Christ can do more! He will put a new man inside the jacket.”  What we need most of all is a change of heart amongst people – a change of heart from following self, to following the Lord Jesus.  This change of heart would dramatically transform not only our personal lives, and the lives of those around us, but would transform the nation as a whole.  The reality is that the Christian message changes people on the inside, where it really counts.  Indeed the power of God’s love can change the hearts of even the worst of people.
Not long ago I read this extraordinary true account of how following Christ changes from the inside even the most rejected of society. It reminds us of the power of the Gospel.  A young man was on death row. His mother was so disgusted by his crimes that she actually wrote to the state governor and said, “Don’t reprieve him, I want him to die.” He had completed one sentence for rape, but when released he raped and murdered a teenage girl. His name was Jimmy Lee Davis and he was in his early twenties.  He was perverted, twisted and rejected by his mother.

A young Christian in Melbourne read a news article about him and thought, “Jesus loves this man.  If only he could know Jesus as I know Jesus, what a difference it would make.”  He wrote a letter to Jimmy and told him that inspite of his crimes Jesus still loved him.  To his amazement he got a letter back saying, “This is the most wonderful letter I’ve ever had in my life.  I wish I could know Jesus as you do. I’ve made such a mess of my life.  You have given me hope.  I wish I could meet you.”  The young man in Melbourne shared the letter with his Church friends and he felt God guiding him to travel to the US to meet Jimmy. A collection was taken and the fare was raised.  As a result of a whole series of the most unlikely coincidences he eventually arrived in the US and was granted permission to regularly visit Jimmy.  Twice a week, for four hours at a time he sat in the cell with Jimmy and explained to him the message of Christ.  This went on for two months.  It eventually concluded with Jimmy’s baptism.  The young Australian’s visa finally expired and he returned to Melbourne.  For two years Jimmy waited for his fate.  In the meantime, they wrote to each other.  Jimmy was maturing as a Christian and in one letter he wrote, “There is one thing I’m not going to do. I am not going to dishonour the Gospel by using my conversion to escape the penalty I know I deserve.”

One day the young man got a call from his wife – “Jimmy’s got permission to ring us from prison, he’s being executed tonight.” They spoke on the phone two hours before the execution.  The young man just broke down and cried on the phone. However Jimmy at the other end simply said, “I love you man.  Thank you for all you have done for me.” Jimmy’s heart had been changed by Christ from being a murderer and a rapist.  No government can do such a thing – it is the work of Christ alone.

I leave you with this thought – if the Christian message when properly taught and explained can have such a dramatic transformation on even the worst of characters, think what it could do for the rest of the general population?  What our country needs is Christ.  People need a new heart, changed attitudes and a new world view on life, where they put others first before themselves.  If this were done, the root cause of our nation’s ills would be solved and this country would be dramatically transformed beyond recognition.