Friday, April 20, 2012

Change is Hard!

Let's just be honest: change is hard! I am increasingly more aware of this reality as graduation approaches and the unknown future looms beyond. We all like our routines...we like it when things go as expected...we like the familiar...and we like to be right. We don't like to admit that we are wrong...that we have a deficiency...a flaw in our character...a need for change. Even those of us who like change have to admit that there is a limit to how much change we can take at once and the kind of change we enjoy. If we like change, it is usually for the sake of novelty and not the difficult and lasting kind of change we really need. We like to mix it up at Starbucks, or rearrange the living room, but our affinity or aversion to this kind of change is often related to personality and temperament. That is not the kind of change I am talking about.  The truth is that God is not done with you yet (no matter the length or depth of your Christian maturity) and that is a good thing.

In one sense, we might say that change defines the essence of life in Christ. You and I were made for change, we were made for spiritual transformation. Here a few examples from Scripture:
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Rom. 8:29, NIV). "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom. 12:1-2, NIV). "And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV).

I think one of the greatest hindrances to experiencing the fullness of life in Christ is our resistance to change. Let us be clear about one thing: this is not a message about doing more and trying harder. We cannot change ourselves through hard work and extra effort. Sanctification is completely a work of God based upon his holiness (1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 4:22-24). Yet Scripture consistently exhorts us to abide in Christ (John 15), renew our mind (Rom. 12:1-2), resist the flesh and put on the new self  (Col. 3:5-11). We do not engage this process to become "better" Christians, but so that we can experience the fullness of life in Christ. This is what it means to enter or receive the kingdom of God and live under the reign of the lordship of Christ. Sometimes this spiritual transformation occurs in dramatic fashion over short periods of time, but often it looks more like A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (book by Eugene Peterson). Change is hard, but it is what we were made for. 

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