Discipleship Scripture

We Say We Believe in God…but Don’t Think We Can Change

April 11, 2011

Change can be difficult, but life change can seem impossible. Often we don’t think we can do it.  Maybe that because we have such a poor track record in making substantive changes in our lives. We have long lists of New Year resolutions that remain unfulfilled. We’ve tried to kick bad habits, lose weight or get out of debt and it didn’t work.

Another reason we don’t change is that people have told us we can’t change. There have been people in your life like that.  Believe me there have been people in my life like that, a kind of Greek chorus chanting “you can’t do that” “it’ll never work” “you’ll never go there.”  I remember vividly a woman (of a certain age) more or less assaulting me after Mass a number of years ago waving her finger at me and scolding, “This parish will never go where you’re trying to take it.”

On the other hand, another reason we say we can’t change is based on facts, there are some things about us that won’t change.  Personality traits, personal preferences, what we’re good at, what we like to avoid, are usually stable parts of who we are.  But here’s what we get wrong: we lump in with our personality traits and preferences our sins and failures and weaknesses and defects of character, and then we create the narrative that says, “That’s just who I am.”  I remember one time we confronted a member-minister here who was acting in an inappropriate way and his excuse was, “that’s just who I am.”

No, it’s not.

It’s how you’re acting but it’s not who you are.  It’s sin living in you, but it’s not you. My true identity does not rest in my sins or weaknesses.  When I sin or fall or fail, I’ve chosen to yield myself to sin and weakness, but that is not who I am.  When we define ourselves by our sin and failures we are not living in agreement with God and who God says we are.  

The Christian life, a life authentically connected to Jesus Christ is all about life change.  To say we believe in God is also to say we believe God can change us.  And we all need that, we all need life change, because we are not now everything he wants us to be. 

The basics of life change are always the same and simple as can be: recognition of the ways we need to change, belief that God can do that work in our life, and obedience to his word.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *