The winter morning was moving right along, filled with all the traditions of preparation for another day of school. Our second oldest son, bubbling with initiative, was even thinking about that evening’s Bible study and prayer time for our church, and dressed accordingly.
My wife gave him a quick looking over and commented that perhaps, since he planned to play throughout the day, he go and change his pants and then change back again shortly before leaving for the evening service.
Our son, obviously pained that his planning ahead would be undone, expressed his reasons for wearing a pair of his nicer pants, but trumped by motherly authority, made his way to his room to change into pants in which he could play more unreservedly.
As he passed me, while I was typing away on a paper for church, I overheard him say to himself, “It’s just that I don’t like to change.”
After he had passed, I smiled to myself and called after him, “Thank you! I now know what this week’s column is about!”
His comment resonated very deeply with what I believe is a common sentiment of God’s people today. Of course, it’s understandable and appropriate for there to be some resistance to some kinds of change, or changes that are merely reactive and shallow, cultivating nothing of spiritual benefit but only please our basic instincts (which, I’m sad to say, is the reason for much change in the world today).
Still, change is an essential ingredient in the life of a Christian. Not only is it essential as if it were one factor among many: it is essential in the sense that the call to be a disciple is all about change – giving, growing, and going. We give our hearts and lives to Him for He gave up His life for us (see 1 Peter 1:18-20). We grow in our character and spiritual stature for He is growing a plethora of spiritual fruit within us (see Galatians 5:22-25). And we go with Him as we leave behind what we’ve always been and become what He wants us to be (sometimes literally changing our geographic position in addition to our spiritual condition – see Luke 14:26-27).
In fact, if we do not experience change, we can not possibly have any hope of an eternity with the Lord. Consider how we must each change as we yield in repentance to the holiness of God. Consider how our stubborn and hard hearts must forsake their own ways, change course, and place total faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus (faith in Him, His substitutionary death, and His resurrection are the ONLY ways one can find peace with God). Consider how we must all “become” like children, or, in other words, CHANGE to be like little ones in order to know eternal, intimate relationship with God (Matthew 18:3).
Practically speaking, change is hard. And much of the change around us is NOT good as our nation’s moral descent continues to snowball into all kinds of social ills. And perhaps some of the change WITHIN us hasn’t been so hot either. If, for instance, change in our hearts and minds is the kind of change that results in a compromise of Godly character, we tread the wrong path. If the change that characterizes us the change of deterioration or stagnation, then yuck! Who really wants that? Or if the change we endure is the change that comes from a heart that isn’t steadily anchored to Christ in faith and is therefore tossed about mercilessly, disconnected from God’s peace, then this is also not the kind of change we desire.
Jesus talked about change on occasion. Forecasting the radical implications that His life, death, and resurrection would have for all humanity, He recognized the difficulties that the human heart has with change. For instance, in Luke 5:36-38 (NIV), Jesus said, “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”
He is not saying that the “old garment” and the “old wine” is bad; they’re simply insufficient in of themselves to provide the compatibility necessary to receive either the “new patch” or the “new wine”. Think of it! If your heart is like the old garment, and is not regularly made new with the fresh threads of an active faith in Christ, then you’ll be hard pressed to accept whatever new revelations of Himself He wants to bring to you. Or if your heart has become stiff and tough, like the old leather of an old wineskin, the explosive wonder of His immensity may threaten to burst your nice, stable religious life. “No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5:38-29 NIV).
No, our hearts must be made new daily so that we can receive daily new things from God. Don’t allow yourself to “settle” for mediocrity in your spiritual life, but seek the high adventure that God has destined for you. Don’t settle for mere religious activities that do not point you beyond themselves nor encourage you to give, grow, and go with Jesus as you abide in a real relationship with Him. Hunger for more. Embrace His loving call for you to walk with Him in an incredible journey of exploration. Maybe you don’t like to change… maybe the comfort of what you’ve always known seems irresistibly attractive. But in the life of the Christian, we want to do more than just scratch the surface of His amazing grace!