Here’s a news flash best fit for mainstream awareness: the end-all, be-all mark of a good life is not limited to an accrual of virtues and values. Beliefs that suggest such an accumulation is sufficient enough to constitute saving grace, especially when mixed with tailored standards, contradict the Gospel. The mere scent of this misleading dogma lights my fuse to the point of blazoning out. But it is out of pure respect for the final fruit of the Spirit that I shut up and write instead.
There is a virtue/value combo seldom mentioned due to a pervasive twist in its perception. The word, “change”, is one of the most relative terms in the human language. We commonly associate “change” as a subjective idea, based on past experiences and future forecasts, for better or for worse (in more ways than one). In other words, change can be good or it can be bad (Note: the only word used twice in that last sentence is “can” and "be"). Accepting this perspective on change is to consent, furthermore, that change is entirely dependent on circumstances and our feelings towards them; however, I strongly submit that this approach fails to capture the real meaning of “change”. When we look at the Bible, we see a completely different picture.
Let’s start by making a clear-cut correlation between the two dominant words of this blog thus far: Change is an absolute value. But this statement loses all foundation if stripped away from the cross. More on this in a moment…
Before we continue, let’s pause for brief phrase identification. What is a value? Well, most of us would agree that it is something morally sound, something incontestable that drives, directs and motivates conduct. Values produce a reason why we do things, while guarding behavior and emotions. Clearly, a good person cannot live without values.
Building on basics, we consider Paul’s address in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NLT):
“8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. 9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
Sometimes, God’s compassion carries ruthless undertones. Yet, if we adhere to the question of, ‘What is God really after’, our interpretation axis shifts. Sorrow is nothing but a collection of wasted tears and unsettlements without repentance. And God is after this in every man because justice is ultimately achieved through our salvation. The divine acquisition of our souls from eternal hell, paid with innocent blood shed on the cross, is dramatically abused when repentance is neglected. Christ’s sacrifice is the greatest inspiration for change to abound.
Repentance and change in the Bible are closer to synonymous than we realize. Real change, the Jesus way, preserves repentance as a lifestyle and sustains values. The Bible is laden with references that speak life to this, and if this axiom to be believed, then we can infer that a good life does not stop at a quantifiable peak of virtues and values. Concerning prerequisites to repentance, we discover two important principles, confession and submission. While these two rudiments may help a person yield in the moment, repentance establishes the yielding process as routine. True, confession and submission serve as moral compasses, shedding light on the right path, but is repentance that establishes the motion. Thus, true change cannot happen unless confession and submission bud into repentance.
Perhaps the word “change” invokes unpleasant retentions. If so, then the lenses in which we see “change” are dirty and need cleaning. Quite ironic, since Jesus came to purify mankind from its sin and give each person the free will to change. For perfect love cannot exist without free choice and salvation could not stand without the most extreme act of injustice offsetting our rebellion against God. People may turn away from purpose and calling, but the existence of our call to “change” has been established from the very beginning.
So putting one and one together, we see that “change” cannot be disconnected from essence. We were created to experience, which cannot happen fully without growth, which cannot happen fully without “change”. The beauty of creation testifies to persistent patterns of righteous modification – a divine process that gives God glory and overflows His cup to the point He must give unto others. Therefore, “change” can be seen as a branch of worship and a way in which we can know God.
And isn’t that the reason we were made in the first place? …
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