Extreme Makeover: Soul Edition part 1:
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 29, 2006


I’m going to tell you something, but you can’t tell my wife. Okay? Here it is: I like to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I do. It’s a good show. But don’t tell Shera, okay? I mean, I’ve spent years making fun of those “Trading Places”, “What Not to Wear” kinds of shows. I don’t want to ruin everything I’ve accomplished. (Of course, the fact that this message will be PodCast makes it likely that she’ll find out anyway. So I think I’ve already blown it.)

But in about eight hours, I’ll be sitting in front of my TV, remote control in hand, and I’ll tune in to see what’s happening on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

You know why I watch it, don’t you? I mean, most of you who watch it… you probably watch it for the same reason. You watch it because of the difference it makes for that one family each week. Now, if you’re not familiar with the show, let me see if I can summarize it for you.

Every week, this construction crew identifies one family who really needs help. Usually, it’s a family that has recently lost someone, or there’s a severe mental or physical disability within the family, or it’s a family that has given and given and given to their community and now it’s time for them to be given to… typically, they’re living in an old run-down shack… a home that should be condemned… or one that’s just not healthy or functional for their particular needs… The crew shows up on their doorstep, sends the family on vacation, demolishes their home, and builds them a big new one, all in the span of a week. And then there’s the heart-warming ending when the family comes back and discovers the home that been built just for them.

How many of you watch that show, at least occasionally?

Of course, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a spin-off from another show that was simply called Extreme Makeover. Do you remember that show? That was a show where people who were disfigured or who just thought they were ugly would go into seclusion for a while, have all kinds of plastic surgery done on them, and then there’d be the “big reveal” at the end of the show when their family would see them again for the first time. I never really watched that show, but it was a big hit for a while as people loved to see the transformation and the difference it made.

But both shows have their limitations. The original Extreme Makeover focused on changing the outward appearance of a person, but that was as far as they could go. They couldn’t really do anything about changing the person.

And the Home Edition? Well, it focuses on changing the circumstances and changing the surroundings. But again, it can’t do a thing about changing the person.

In fact, to my knowledge, there’s only one way that a person can truly be changed, and that’s through the work of God in your life. When He changes you, He doesn’t just change your outward appearance. In fact, at least initially, nothing changes there. And He doesn’t necessarily change your circumstances. Though He will change your outlook on them. No, when God transforms a life, the transformation begins from the inside out. Look in the Bible at how the Apostle Paul explained this in the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians… read it with me…

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

When God transforms your life, you’re a new person! He doesn’t just do a little housecleaning here or there… He recreates you so that at a heart level… at a soul level… you’re a brand new person. He breathes new life into you.

And I’ve got to tell you… when you accept Jesus into your life, that transformation begins immediately. There are changes you can notice right away. Those of you who have experienced this know what I’m talking about. You immediately begin to notice greater levels of love and compassion for others. You discover a new desire to live in a way that will honour God. Doesn’t mean you’ll always get it right, but you have that desire. You have a new confidence and a new purpose in life, because you’ve been reunited with your Creator. You experience a brand new perspective on your problems, and even when things are darkest you find that there is hope.

That all begins immediately. But it’s only the beginning. It’s only the start of a life-long process. All of those things that I just mentioned will continue to grow in your life. One by one, as you allow God to work in your life, you’ll experience victory over those habits and addictions that there was no way you could beat beforehand. The reign of selfishness in your life will end, and you’ll begin to act selflessly. And all of this is what God will do in your life to make you the person He created you to be. And what did He create you to be?

Romans 8:29 (NLT)
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son…

God’s plan is and always has been to make you like His Son… Jesus Christ. Now, don’t get me wrong. Let me be clear about what this verse is saying… It’s not saying you’re going to become a god. There are some cults that will tell you that you will become a god, but that’s not true and that’s not what this verse is saying. You will never be a god. I mean, you may want people to think you’re a god and sometimes you may act like you think you’re a god, but you’ll never be a god. And God doesn’t want you to become a god. What He wants is for you to become godly. He wants you to develop His character… the way He thinks, the way He acts, the way He feels, His values, His moral character. He wants that for you. In those ways, He wants you to become like His Son.


How do you become like Jesus?

Well, let me suggest four ways that you become like Jesus. There are notes provided in your Sunrise Update which you can use to follow and fill in the blanks. First…

1. You become like Jesus by your closeness to Him.

By your proximity to Him. Here… Let me show you something. I have here a magnet and a couple nails. And I think you’ll find this really quite remarkable. I can take this magnet…. This is amazing to me… I can take this magnet and actually pick up the nails. Who would have thought, a magnet can pick up metal. Isn’t that incredible?

Okay, maybe not. But how about this? The magnet can pick up the nails, but if I take one of the nails and try to pick up the other one, it’s just not going to happen. Okay, it’s nothing new for you. You know that the magnet has a north pole and a south pole and creates a magnetic field causing a force of attraction that can pick up metal. We’ve all played with magnets as kids. We know how they work.

But here’s the thing. This nail can’t pick up the other nail all by itself. But, if the nail is connected to the magnet, it takes on the characteristics of that magnet and can then pick up the other nail. What made the difference? Its proximity to a real magnet.

There, that’s your science class for the day. But here’s the point. The nail is transformed and takes on magnetic qualities because of its relationship to the real magnet. And for you and me… our lives can be transformed through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The closer we get to Him, the more we take on His characteristics.

So how do we get close to Jesus? How do we get to know Him better and better? Well, the two greatest tools He gave us are prayer and reading His Word, the Bible. That’s why all this month I’ve been encouraging you to pray and read the Bible for seven days in a row. Maybe just a few minutes each day, but seven days in a row. Because I know that if you will do that, you will notice the difference it makes. And if you’re able to do that regularly, then it will transform your life.

The Bible is a book of Truth. And God is the Author of Truth. And Truth is incredibly powerful. It takes Truth to transform your life. So if you really want to grow spiritually, you’ve got to get into this Book. The more you get into it, the more you’re going to grow. You need to read it and study it and memorize it and meditate on it and think about it and apply it in your life, because it takes Truth to transform us.

And more than that, you’ve got to get to know Jesus. Because it’s your proximity to Him that makes the real difference.

The more you learn about Jesus by reading His Word and the more you get to know Him personally… the more you will become like Him. And that is really God’s design for your life. Look at this verse… read it with me…

Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ…

To become like Jesus, you need to get close to Jesus.


2. You become like Jesus through a lifelong process.

You know, babies are cute. But if babies stay babies, it’s tragic. God doesn’t want us to remain as spiritual babies. He wants us to grow up. He wants us to mature. And what does spiritual maturity look like? Just take a long look at Jesus.

God put you on this planet to become like Jesus. Jesus is the model of what He wants us to grow up like. But this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like one day all of a sudden – ZAP – you’re just like Jesus. It’s a process. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition may be able to destroy a house and build a new one within a week, but the Makeover that God wants to work in your soul will take a lifetime. He’ll work in this area of your life for a while, and then He’ll move over here, and then He’ll start challenging you over there. It’s a process of growing and maturing a little bit each day.

And unfortunately, some people don’t want to go through the process. And so, a lot of people grow older but never grow up. I know people who have been Believers for years and years, but they’ve never grown up.

But the truth is, it’s going to take the rest of your life for God to build character in you… the character qualities of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.


3. You become like Jesus by changing bosses.

No, you don’t have to quit your job tomorrow morning. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is, you need to change who and what you’re living for. At one time, you were living for pleasure and power and popularity. You thought those were the things that would bring you fulfillment. You were living for yourself, and you were subject to your own sinful desires and temptations.

But if you’re going to become like Jesus, that needs to change. Look at these verses…

Romans 6:16-19 (NLT)
You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living… Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

And if you want to become like Jesus, you must become holy because He is holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

Wow, that sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? To be “holy”! Wow. I mean, is that even possible? Sure, the Pope is called “Your Holiness”, so maybe he’s holy. I suppose Billy Graham might be in that category. And maybe those saints from the past who have cities and hospitals and streets named after them. They could be holy. Maybe even that elderly lady down the street… she seems holy. So sure, some people can be Holy.

But me? Be Holy? If I’ve got to be holy, then I might as well quit right now, right?

Well, hold on. I don’t think you really understand what it means to be holy. Because “to be holy” does not mean “to be perfect”. It doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes from time to time. It doesn’t mean that you don’t royally mess up and need to seek God’s forgiveness from time to time.

Being holy does not mean you are completely without fault. It does not mean that you become someone really weird who’s completely out of touch with reality. It does not mean it is impossible for you to sin. But it does mean that it is possible for you not to sin. It does mean that it is possible for you to operate your life according to the love of God flowing through you. It does mean that you aim to glorify God in your thoughts, words and deeds and that you want to make Him proud of you, His child.

Put simply, being “holy” means that you become more like Jesus. It means that you become godly… a little more each day. It means you live by God's standards, not the world's.

But still, can you really make yourself holy? No. No, you can’t. You can’t make yourself holy. Only God can make you holy. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, through the work of God, and through the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, you can be holy. Here… let me show you…

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Hebrews 10:10 (NLT)
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

1 Corinthians 6:11 (NLT)
You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.

So what role do you play? You can’t make yourself holy, but you do play a role. Because you get to choose who you will live for. You choose to change bosses. You choose to turn from serving your sinful nature and to serving God and allowing Him to make you holy. That simple.

Oh, there will be struggles. Your sinful nature will fight back. But allow God to continue His work in you, keep your focus on Him, and He will work a miracle in your life.


4. You become like Jesus by trusting in times of trouble.

Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son…

What do those verses tell us? They tell us that God’s purpose is to make us like Jesus, and He’ll use everything that happens in our lives toward that end.

But “everything?” Does that include bad things? Painful things? Does it even include mistakes we make from sinning? Yes, it does. God works everything for the good of those who love Him. It doesn’t say all things are good, because there’s a lot of bad in the world. There’s no denying that. But in everything, the good and the bad, God uses it to make me more like Christ.

So even the troubles we face in life help us become more like Jesus. How? Well, in the Bible, the words “trouble” or “trials” often refer to situations designed by God to draw us closer to Him. They’re not designed to hurt us; they’re designed to help us. You see, if everything goes great in your life, it doesn’t stretch your faith, it doesn’t mould any character, it doesn’t make you more like Jesus. So God has to bring some things along in our life to stretch us and to cause us to grow. These are called troubles or trials. Now look at this…

Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

All kinds of problems are going to come into your life, and you’re going go, “Why me, Lord? Why is this happening to me?” As if your life is supposed to be a life of comfort. But it’s not. This is not Heaven. And if you think you’re going to have Heaven on earth, you’re going to be very disappointed. This is not the place for comfort. This is the place for character development. This is the place to become more like Jesus.

And since we’re talking about becoming more like Jesus, let’s look at how Jesus Himself handled times of trouble. He went through many troubles and trials in His life, but His greatest was the night before He was crucified. Because He knew what He was going to have to face the next day, and the intensity of that turmoil in His heart was enormous. He was going to take the sin of the world on Himself. He was going to die a horrible death by crucifixion, and the real question would be, “Would He trust God the Father?” Would He trust His Father to know what’s best, even if it meant an extremely painful death? That’s what He had to struggle with.

And so He took His disciples and went to a place called Gethsemane. And He asked His disciples to stay nearby while He prayed. And He told them…

Mark 14:34 (NLT)
“My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”

This is major trouble Jesus is going through. He says, “I am almost crushed when I think of what’s going to happen tomorrow, what I’m going to have to go through.” And maybe you say, “I know that feeling… I’ve felt like I couldn’t make it another day.” But notice how Jesus prayed. He said…

Mark 14:36 (NLT)
“Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”

If you’re going to become like Jesus, you’re going to have to learn this. When you go through trouble, it’s okay to say to God, “God, I don’t like this”, “God, I want You to take it away.” That’s what Jesus said. But He also surrendered to God’s plan. He said, “Regardless of how I feel, I want Your will to be done. Whatever that may mean.”

If you’re going to become like Jesus Christ, you’ve got to learn to trust God completely, even when things look terrible… even when things are falling apart. Because God uses trouble to teach us to trust Him. It’s easy to trust God when everything is going great in your life. The real test of your faith is, do you hang tough with God even when you don’t feel good? Even when everything is going wrong? Even when you’re facing these troubles and trials?

Because you can. And I think one of the things that will help you do this is if you remember the reward. Because in eternity God is going to reward you. The Bible says… read this with me…

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT)
For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!

Paul says, “You know what? What we’re going through isn’t going to last, and even if it lasted a lifetime, that’s nothing compared to the number of years you’re going to spend in eternity.” God uses trouble to teach us to trust Him and to become more like Jesus.


God wants to work an Extreme Makeover in your life, at the soul level. But He won’t do it without your permission and cooperation. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk more about how you can cooperate in this process. But this morning, we need to deal with the issue of permission. Will you give God permission to work in your live, any way that He needs to, in order to make you more like His Son? Will you give His Holy Spirit free reign to challenge you in various areas of life and to transform you by His presence? That’s the decision you need to make. Will you make it this morning?


Let’s bow our heads in prayer.

Father, life makes so much more sense when we realize that it’s not about our career, it’s not about our comfort, it’s all about character and becoming like Jesus. We ask you this morning to place in us a deep desire to become more like Your Son everyday, and then begin that process in our lives, we pray.

Now you pray. Just silently, you can pray something like this…

Dear God, I want to grow in character. I want to become who You made me to be. I want Your will for my life. Thank you for the model of Jesus. I want to become more like Jesus in the way I think and the way I feel and the way I act. And if that means taking me through times of trouble, then that’s fine. Whatever it takes. I want to know You, and I want to become more like You. And so I give you permission to do whatever You need to do in my life.

Now, if you’ve never opened your life to Jesus Christ and want to do that this morning, then you can add something like this...

“Jesus, I can’t become like You unless I know you. So I want to get to know You, starting today. I ask You to come into my life and into my heart. I’m sorry for living my own way; teach me to live Your way. In Your name I pray, Amen.”


[Some of this message was adapted from material by Rick Warren at PurposeDriven.com. Used with permission.]




Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2006 SunriseOnline.ca