Change or Die
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“Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.” – Isaac Newton, as he expressed the First Law of Motion.
Life is full of change – whether we like it or not. When we are young, we hope to change into an adult so we can do things we can’t do as youngsters. When we are older, we want to be young so we can do the things we can’t do as adults. Our jobs change, events in life change, our health can change. The world around us changes – technology, politics, business – and on and on. We resist change like that First Law of Motion Newton expressed. We like being comfortable and secure – but change happens whether we like it or not.
If we were to talk about change from within (as opposed to change in the world around us) – change that would result in life or death – could we do it? What if a doctor told us that we must change something in our life or we would die – could we do it? Most people think they would, but statistically they don’t – only one person in nine (about 11%) makes a lasting change even when the consequence is death, according to an article in Fast Company magazine (May 1, 2005, Change or Die). In November 2004 at the annual meeting of the Global Medical Forum, the founder of the forum, Dr. Raphael Levey, said to the audience that in spite of advances in medicines and medical technology the vast majority of healthcare budgets are for diseases that are well known and behavioral – too much smoking, drinking, eating, and stress, and not enough exercise (in other words, diseases we have the knowledge to prevent). As I mentioned in my introduction, we resist change.
But….in our Christian calling, we are called to change (Acts 2:38). The English word “repent” means “to change one’s mind” – to think differently, in the Greek. Why? Why do we need to think differently? Because sin leads to death (Romans 6:23, James 1:15), because sin reflects Satan’s nature, not God’s (John 8:44), and because all of us have sinned (we are all in the same boat, Romans 3:23). The change God wishes to see in each and every one of us truly is a matter of life or death (Deuteronomy 30:19) – but as Leo Tolstoy said, “Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing Himself.”
The only way we can even understand that we need to change is because God has started the process (John 6:44). To God’s calling we must add humility (Luke 18:13). To humility we then need to add the change Peter talked about in Acts 2:38. All of that leads to us becoming a new person – a changed person (Ephesians 4:20-24). Putting on a new man can happen a little bit at a time, but there are times to make bold steps. Our old man is to be put to death – that’s a big change. While this thought can seem overwhelming, we are not to be fearful of what change God is working in us (2 Timothy 1:7). We can change. God has given us the instruction of how to overcome sin in His Word. He gives us His help in overcoming sin through the sacrifice of His Son and with God’s Holy Spirit Christ can live in us. He has given us understanding of what sin is and that it will bring death if it is unrepented of. He has given us a support system so we can overcome our flaws and change.
Perhaps this should be our motto in the coming year – Change or Die. Something to consider as we partake of the Passover in two weeks.