Change we can believe in?

By Not Known

Wikipedia defines it well: Repentance is choosing to turn to God and it usually refers to confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to religious law. It typically includes an admission of guilt, a promise or resolve not to repeat the offence; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.

Yet even among Christians today, repentance had often become a forgotten word. Or worse, it has become a word that we merely pay lip service to.

Just last week, a pastor friend was relating to me how people often find it quite impossible to make changes to their lives. He talked proverbially of the person who stands in front of his mirror, takes a good look at himself and said “I am what I am. This is what God has made me to be. This is my character. This is my personality type.” And he does nothing about making changes to his life. 

Granted that making changes is by no means an easy task given the frailty of our human sin and weakness and God knows how we often struggle. And he certainly understands well the pain that is inevitably involved.

Yet we often deceive ourselves, hiding behind the frailty of our human sin and weakness − the character we are born with, the character we have evolved into, our personality type − and myriads of other excuses so that, we do not need to change. 

What are we in fact saying? That the transforming power of Christ Jesus is too weak to change our lives? Or the reality is that we are just not willing to make any effort towards change? And we hide ourselves behind excuses.

In Acts 10, Peter could also hide behind his excuses. He could have said, “I am a Jew. I have been brought up this way. This is my culture. This is what that defines me and my people. How can you expect me or my people to change?” 

But no. Peter changed. Or rather, he allowed God to change him − his world-view, his attitude, his mind and his behaviour. And because he changed, Cornelius’ life, the lives of Cornelius’ family, relatives and close friends; and subsequently that of all the Gentiles who came to Christ, were changed.

Interestingly, James 1:23-24 also speaks of a person who stands in front of his mirror, “and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”  James said that this is what anyone who listens to the word of God but does not do what it says is like.  Are you that person?  The bottomline is whether we will obey God in his word.

Joseph Teng