Change


Dictionary.com defines “change” as “to become different.” We heard a lot about change in a recent presidential campaign. Change itself can be good, bad, or indifferent. “The rain stopped and the sun came out.” That’s probably good if you have had plenty of rain and are planning an outdoor activity. “The stock market was up, but is now down.” That’s likely bad if you have a 401k or an IRA. “I changed from the green shirt to the blue one.” That probably doesn’t make a lot of difference.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)

“A new creature,” I would call that change. Jesus would agree. He believed in change – the good kind.

Here’s another one:

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death,
that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(Romans 6:4 NKJV, emphasis mine, JB)

As Jesus’ disciples, we must believe in positive change too. And, we must be instruments striving to effect change.

Because I am a Christian, I believe change begins with me. I must change myself from one who tries to be good to one who, by the help of God, actually is good. That is always a work-in-progress, and is a life-long task and privilege.

A few years ago I rediscovered this verse:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,
who gives to all liberally and without reproach,
and it will be given to him.
(James 1:5 NKJV)

Hmmm…you mean, as part of a full Christian life, I can actually ask God for wisdom and He will give it to me? That’s what it says.

As I get older (I’m 58 now), I have kind of rediscovered the Sermon on the Mount, including, but not limited to, the following words from the heart and mouth of our Lord:

Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NKJV)

I hope I don’t have to define “peacemaker” for anyone. “Sons of God” carries not only the idea of being in the family of God, but also of being like God. When you and I make peace, when we “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3.11) – we are being like God. Sounds like a good goal for the day to me.

I have a question for you, “If all the wars that have been fought since the close of the Bible period of history, had never been fought, would my life and your life be significantly different today?” Maybe they would, “all” is a pretty big word, and I do believe there is such a thing as a “just war.” So, let’s say “most of the wars,” and you can pick and choose which ones were “just.” If the American Revolution, a war over money, translation: taxation, had never been fought, would our lives be significantly different? We would be good Englishmen instead of Americans, but would that really matter? If the American Civil War had never been fought (I am opposed to slavery, but it would have been ended anyway by the internal combustion engine), would our lives be that different? Was it worth 600,000 lives? You decide. The wars that have been fought during my lifetime, what was accomplished given the blood and treasure that was spelt and spent? You decide. For the record, my issue has never been with the soldiers, it is with the politicians who make the decisions to go to war. I love our military, think we should have a strong one, and think it’s fine for a Christian to serve in it if they so desire.

I think a core issue is that we sometimes confuse patriotism with Christianity. I am proud to be an American and would rather live here than anywhere else. But, I had no choice in the nation of my birth, nor did you. We would have been fine in a number of other places. Jesus Christ did not come to found the United States of America. He came to found the Church of Christ, and that He did. We must not confuse the two.

Now, having said all that, there is little I can do to affect American foreign policy. I am grateful that I can vote, along with about 100 million others. But it is questionable how much weight 1/100,000,000 of the vote carries.

What I can do, is accomplish positive change in my own life. I may not be able to bring peace to the world, but I can bring peace to my family, my church, and my community. Instead of worrying about things beyond my control, I desperately need to concentrate on what I can control. I need to bring closure in my heart to things I can’t change and fill my heart and life with efforts to change to Christlikeness my own personal world starting with my own personal life. This article is an attempt to do that. Your kindness, understanding, and patience is appreciated.

John

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6 Responses to “Change”

  1. Justin Guin Says:

    Great thoughts John. Very thought provoking keep up the good writing.

  2. Will Says:

    Hey, John, I loved your article. You always have many good points. Regardless of where we are born, regardless if we are American or not, regardless if we are black or white, we still serve the same God and the one and only God. I thank God every day for giving me the Christian momma He did. Growing up in Christ is a lot easier than being converted. Have a good one.

  3. John Says:

    Thanks Justin and Will. I hope to post some more. Y’all come back.

  4. Chris Turner Says:

    I enjoyed reading this article very much. I agree with your comments about confusing being a Christian with being an American. I have had people tell me its their “God Given Right” to bear arms….they don’t even know what they are saying. Or others who believe that God loves Americans more than other nations or nationalities. I firmly believe in the Jeffersonian seperation of Church and State. I do not believe in setting aside time for prayer at public schools. If one feels the need to pray they can go into a closet and pray or pray quietly at their desks. I truly wonder sometimes if those who scream the loudest about “school prayer” even pray with their kids at home. Anyhow, I enjoyed your writings. I will buy your best selling book when you publich it.

    In brotherly love,

    Chris

  5. Tim Archer Says:

    Thanks John for giving me the link to this post. It definitely fits in with the things that I’ve been discussing on my blog.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  6. Harold Letson Says:

    Thanks John. You bring up some very interesting and true points! It is so very easy to connect patriotism with being a Christian. While it is true that God has tremendously blessed the US, those blessings will also have consequences if we haven’t used them right. God has “used” the US to bless other nations, especially in time of need, even with the current crisis in Haiti. He has opened doors of opportunity to American missionaries to spead the Gospel in other countries. At the time, many people on both sides considered the Civil War a “just” war. It was fueled by hothead politicians that had their own special interests in mind. The real victim of the Civil War was the Lord’s church! It’s membership was decimated, and sadly it was truly brother against brother.

    I appreciate the good work you are doing and I pray God’s continued blessings on you and your family.

    Harold

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