Saturday, September 27, 2014

The nexus of change ...

We talk about "change" in sweeping terms and poignant platitudes, but often very inaccurately.

For example, not everyone wants change. There are many people who detest change, and assert themselves against it. It's not just the guy who still listens to albums on a record player and has leisure suits hanging in his closet. You'll find CEOs, average Joe's, several pastors, and a broad mix of people who don't like to experience change.

But some (many) people do.

It's also not true that we're all afraid of change. Some people embrace change, like the early adopters to technology. These are the people who sign up to be beta testers and are always looking for what is just beyond the horizon. Some people appreciate what they've experienced, but seem to be perpetually ready to move on to something different.

Whether we like change or don't like change, whether we fight it or embrace it, we all need it. One simple example of that being a fact is the reality that none of us are perfect. Yet, God's design is for us to live a life of transformation, transitioning through life from a sinner saved by grace, to a saint living like the Son of God ...

"This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ," Ephesians 4:13.

"Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God --- truly righteous and holy," Ephesians 4:21-24.

That sounds like we all still need to make some changes!

So what is at the nexus of change?

First, we have to move beyond the "want to" stage.

Norman Cates tells the story of a guy who prayed this prayer every morning: "Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is."

One day this man found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him even though the bus was nearly empty. The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop so he could exit the bus. But before he could get very nervous about the man next to him, the big guy burst into tears. He then cried out with a loud voice, "I need to be saved! I'm a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won't somebody tell me how to be saved?" He then turned to the Christian and pleaded, "Can you show me how to be saved?"

The believer immediately bowed his head and prayed, "Lord, is this a sign?"

The believer wanted to be a witness because he knew he should be since he was a Christian. The problem is, even when he was drowning in opportunity, he wasn't willing to actually witness!

At the nexus of change is the tension between what we want to do (or be) and what we're willing to do (or be).

We may want to be 40 pounds lighter, but we're not willing to change our diet or start a consistent exercise regimen. We may want great friendships, but we're not willing to invest the time in people. We may want to have great biblical knowledge, but we're not willing to do the study for ourselves.

Scripture gives us multiple examples of people who claimed they wanted to respond affirmatively to Jesus' message, but they were unwilling to do so.

But being willing isn't, itself, enough to bring about change. Once we're willing to change, we must take action. When we've moved beyond basic desire (want) to actually being willing to pay the price or do the work that change requires, we must then take action or nothing will change.

Jesus summarized this in His challenge to us for real life change ...

"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me," Luke 9:23.

If you really want to follow Jesus, you have to be willing to pay the price and then act by denying yourself, taking up your cross every day, and literally follow Him. You have to move past desire (want) to decision (willing), and then on to demonstration (action).

Have you moved past the want stage where you're not only willing to follow Christ, but you're acting on that decision by actually following Him? Or are you still wanting the results of change without the willingness to take the action Jesus demands?


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