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. ~Romans 12:2~
Change. Changed. Changing. So what does change or being changed really mean? I’ve heard the word “change” used in SO many ways over the past few weeks, I felt like I needed to blog about it.
You know when a word or subject seems to pop up in your life for no apparent reason, but it’s everywhere?!?! That’s what change has done to me lately. So, maybe this post is just to work out what it means for me. Maybe there is a big “change” about to happen in my life or with one of you and this post is suppose to get us mentally prepared. Maybe it is suppose to bring light to how often we use the word. Or maybe it’s for us to understand what it really means to be changed as a Christian.
Here are just a few ways I’ve heard “changed” over the past few weeks:
Can you give me change for $5? Asking my hubby for change because I never have money and when I do it’s always the wrong denomination.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” A quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.
Oh, she’s changed! Over-hearing a conversation between two students talking about a sorority sister whose personality had evidently gone through some major changes recently.
I’ve changed my mind. The reason I was returning an item to a store.
They were forever changed. Recounting a major event in someone’s life that obviously affected them in some way.
I think I’m going through ‘the change’. Thank goodness this has not fully happened to me just yet, but the dreaded mid-life hormonal change is on its way!
Going to college will be a major change for her. Thinking about my daughter going to college in the fall and how just her day to day routine will change.
He (Trump) is changing the Republican party. Comments made on a national news program.
Your change WILL make a difference. An ad and collection box I saw at a Wendy’s in Georgia just today asking for your change to fund state adoptions. (Not sure if it was for advertising, programs, etc. The title just caught my attention.)
Granted these are different meanings of the word change/changed, but you get my point. I’ve heard it a lot!
I think when I really started to think about the word changed was when my ex-husband accused me of “changing” during a conversation we had this week. My initial response was, “Thank you!” I hope I have changed since we split! LOL!
He went on to say he thought I was “more judgmental than before”. When I pushed for more explanation (because I honestly hope I am NOT as judgmental as before I recommitted my life to Christ!), he went on to explain how “actions” of people and the “good” someone does reveals more about being a Christian than talking about it. He mentioned how “even Jesus hung out with thieves, crooks, prostitutes, etc.” When I remarked “Yes, yes, He did! And that’s how He won them over!”
He immediately came back with, “See, you already think they are wrong!”
I was dumbfounded. “Of course I think they are wrong! They were not believers and Jesus spent time with them in order to show them how being ‘born again’ and following Him could free them from the Law of bondage! If that’s what you think I ‘judge’ for, then okay, I’m guilty!”
Needless to say, the conversation didn’t go much further than that, but it did get me thinking. When I say I’m changed because I’m a believer, a Christian, a child of God, what does that really mean?
The Guest of a Sinner
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ~Luke 19:2-10~
So, there are lots of definitions for change. It can mean: to make or become different, transform, alter, become new, use another, and exchange. Lots of definitions. Lots of ways to use just one word.
I also started thinking about HOW we change. Once we commit our lives to God and declare Him our Lord and Savior, we go through what’s called justification. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence that we receive by faith alone. It is God’s gift given to us when Christ died on the cross.
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~1 Corinthians 6:11~
As Paul mentions in his message to the church of Corinth, we are also sanctified in Christ. Sanctification is different from justification in that it is not instantaneous and it is not given by God. We have to continually submit to God’s will, resist sin, seeking holiness, and working to be more Godly in order to be sanctified.
So, justification happens instantly and is God-given, and sanctification is a process and is Holy Spirit driven (it is through our actions/works that we continually strive to listen to the Holy Spirit, but this is a never-ending process).
So, as Christians, it seems we can be changed immediately when we decide to give our lives to Christ. But, just because it happens instantaneously, does that mean we look any differently?
With justification there is no outside, physical change apparent to the world that we are “changed”.
On the other hand, with sanctification, we are continually changing inside (as we listen for the Holy Spirit to direct our thoughts and our actions) and outside (how we act on those directions, how we treat others, etc.). So, if you truly want the Lord’s will to direct your life, then there should be visible signs of change happening with you.
When I was thinking about this post, I felt the Holy Spirit say this to me:
Stuff can happen/change all around us, but if we don’t want to change, we’re not going to.
I’ve often heard this said about alcoholics or drug addicts, that unless they want to change their behaviors, they won’t. Guess it’s the same with any type of change we’re talking about. We can “wish” ourselves thin or have the “desire” to stop smoking, or whatever the culprit may be, but until we put down the fork and start exercising or throw away the cigarettes (I know it probably takes more than just throwing them away!) or whatever the action may be that will start the ball rolling, that’s what we have to do.
I thought about calling this blog post Catalyst, but when I looked at the definition of catalyst, I decided that really was not what I was talking about or wanting to know more about. I always thought a catalyst was a person or thing that makes something change and I was partially correct, but it is more about precipitating an event than changing something. The catalyst doesn’t make the change happen, he/she simply spurs it on.
A catalyst could be someone’s speech that spurs on a debate. Or it could be a major life-altering event that someone lives through that spurs them on to help others or rallying for others who are in predicaments similar to what they lived through.
Whatever the case, something or someone can be considered a catalyst for someone else, but they cannot make the change happen in another person’s life. The person who is spurred on by the catalyst has to be the one to make the change happen.
Another definition of catalyst, in the chemical sense, means a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing ANY permanent chemical change.
Did you catch that? A catalyst does NOT go through any change….it gets the change going (increases the rate) but it does not change itself!
So, you can be a catalyst for someone else (by your words of encouragement, by your actions, by being a good example, etc.), but you cannot make the change FOR them. The change has to come from them and through the Holy Spirit.
My prayer for all of you this week is that you are a catalyst for someone who needs to change AND you will take a look at yourself and have a long talk with the Lord about anything He thinks you need to change.
I’m not saying we always have something to change, but if we can learn to look at our lives through the lens of sanctification and know that only when we allow His will to work through us, then we can truly see change in ourselves. Hopefully others will see that change as well.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~Hebrews 13:8~