Wednesday, June 16, 2010
No- change is not possible in my life. In my spouse, family members or friends. Everyone tries. The world out there holds up all kinds of false hope. New plans for self-improvement. Same old same old. One step forward. Three steps back. More counseling. More books. More diet plans for the soul.
And then a certain resignation sets in. We actually don’t believe in change. Modification maybe. A little tweak here. A little tweak there. But the way we are is the way we are. It’s best to accept it in ourselves and in others.
Then you go to church one Sunday. A good preacher. Inspiring. Motivational. And you here words like this:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
We nod our head because it’s true. It’s a promise of the Bible. It resonates with the one thing we all so deeply want and desperately need.
Hope. Hope for change and transformation.
But it creates tension inside us. On the one hand, we get the promises in the Bible. On the other hand, we know life experience. Come Monday morning a simple but despairing truth wins: THINGS DON’T CHANGE.
Unhealthy behavior patterns, sins that constantly dog us, hurts we inflict on each other or are inflicted on us, it’s how life is. It hasn’t changed. It won’t change. Our job at the end of the day is to accept it.
Believe it or not, there is an antidote. You can find it in the Bible. You can find it down through two thousand years of the Christian history. You can find it today if you’re interested. If you want to.
Let me give an example from the past. There was a preacher, hymn writer in the 18th century by the name of Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). He decided to write the story of his friend Colonel James Gardiner (1688-1745). A distinguished military man in the British army who died in combat.
But there’s a story about him Doddridge tells. You see Gardiner lived a godless life. Successful in his profession. A drinker. A womanizer. So one night he was waiting to secretly meet up with another man’s wife. While waiting he picked up a little Christian book which his mother had slipped into his luggage without his knowing it. Doddridge writes:
He thought he saw an unusual blaze of light fall on the book while he was reading, which at first he imagined might happen by some accident in the candle. But lifting up his eyes he apprehended to his extreme amazement that there was before him, as it were, suspended in the air, a visible representation of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, surrounded on all sides with a glory, and was impressed as if a voice or something equivalent to a voice had come to him to this effect… “O Sinner, did I suffer this for thee, and are these the return?”… Struck with so amazing a phenomenon as this, there remained hardly any life in him, so that he sank down in the armchair in which he sat and continued he knew not how long insensible…But, of course, from that point on he was a new man, a complete change in his life, he became a great saint.1
I read this and I am filled with hope. Filled with praise!
Here is testimony shouting: CHANGE IS POSSIBLE! How is it possible? Well it happened in this man’s life. Jesus Christ met Him. He stepped into his story.
Thank God for his mother. She believed change was possible. How despairing she could have become seeing her son living in such sin. But she didn’t stop praying. Believing. Expecting. And doing all things to help her son see Jesus.
The antidote is simple: It’s called TESTIMONY. There’s nothing like it. Read it in the Bible. Read it in the saints who’ve gone before us. Listen to it in the sound of Christians today. They are all saying the same thing. They are testifying that Jesus Christ is alive! That He meets with us. That in Him, all things are possible. And they expect Him to do great things in our day.
So let me ask you: Do you believe this is true? Do you think change is possible? Real change. Do you expect it? Are you praying for it? Well???
1 This story was taken from Living Water, Sermons on John 4 by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Crossway Books copyright 2009. pp 621-623.
at Wednesday, June 16, 2010