Monday, February 22, 2016
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. Philippians 1:6(NLT)
The old expression you never change horses in the middle of a stream is a familiar one because it expresses a great piece of advice about following through, or perseverance. Politicians are constantly being accused by opponents of contradicting themselves, changing their minds, or taking the easy way out. People even change their gender orientation these days.
I am often asked: Why did you change from Baptist to Methodist? I have come to believe that the question is less-centered on me than on the internal longing of the questioner for a new start. Change comes about only when the pain of staying the same exceeds the fear of changing. Asking the question of someone who has made a difficult change is often borne out of an inner desire to overcome the fear of moving ahead.
A second question – which (to me) seems a natural follow-up to the first question is: And how is that working for you? I am rarely asked that. The usual follow-up question is: And how did you do that? This confirms my belief that others, discontented or annoyed with their present circumstances, long for change. But, deep inside, you know there’s a war going on over fear of repercussions if they act on that longing.
My change came about a decade ago, but I’m only now beginning to feel comfortable in my new (Methodist) skin. Change is hardly something that happens overnight, simply because you change the logo on your business card.
One of the things I realized along the way was that wanting change is not the same as being changed. For instance, in meeting people, and getting into the usual “what do you do for a living” question, I sometimes found myself stumbling through an answer.
That all changed last Thursday!
Thursday is Senior discount day at Harris Teeter, so we were doing our grocery shopping. I was engrossed with staring at the receipt, trying to figure out how we’d gone that much over our budget, so I wasn’t thinking about anything other than making these groceries last two years. The delightful young man who was bagging our purchases finished, and said as I began to leave: There ya go, bud, God bless you! Without thinking or hesitating, I turned to face him, and said: And with you also!
My Methodist transformation is completed!
I find myself asked a third question sometimes: Would you do it again? That’s another question that has a question behind it: Do you think I should change? I find myself side-stepping that question, preferring for people to wrestle in their own mud with that one. But, when I side-step, it is into the other, more profound and eternal question: Should I change from thinking about Jesus and commit to following Jesus?
This is the oft-repeated story of how millions changed throughout history: I once was lost; but now I’m found, ‘twas blind, but now I see.
And seeing, having the blinders of sin removed, must change the “doing” of our daily lives, or there has not been any genuine change.
Paul expressed confidence that the folks at Philippi were going to experience the transforming work, or change, that God had begun in them. Paul’s influence and work among the new church start would not die on the vine; the change of hearts that had once been pagan and lost, without God, were being molded, formed into the image of Christ for the glory of God the Father.
So, let me ask the question about your change from thinking about Jesus to committing and following Jesus…How’s that working for you?