Why is it that some people claim to want to change, or to be "good people" and then feel like that claim doesn't require them to actually make any tangible steps? We make grand statements, and then live the exact same lives as we did before. If a baseball coach talks to his players and tells them that he wants to make some significant changes to his starting lineup, but then sends the same 9 men to the field as he normally would, we have every right to question the sincerity of his decisions. He did the opposite of what he said he was going to do. He stayed the same. Why then is it that we feel justified in making a proclamation that we want to clean up the dirty areas of our life, and then doing absolutely nothing?
Let me give you an example. Jerry is a boy; a great guy, but he has some habits that he is not fond of. Namely drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and doing drugs. Jerry makes the decision to turn his life of partying around, and confides in some friends that he will be making some extensive alterations to his way of living. That Friday night those friends all see Jerry at a bar, drink in hand, living the very same life that he has always lived. Jerry has no integrity, and was not serious about his decision. Reading this, it is obvious that he did not mean what he said, but don't we as Christians do the same thing? We promise to address our lust, yet we watch R rated movies full of sex. We are serious about getting close to God, but our bibles are as dusty as the top shelf of our closet. We trust God with our finances, but most of us don't even know what tithing is. Why do we treat our commitments with such nonchalance? Why do Christians talk a great game, but walk into the arena blindfolded and ill-prepared? Our strategy makes no sense at all.
I am not a sports guy, but allow me one more reference. If a football player desires to be a star quarterback, he has to work out tirelessly day after day to even get a shot at trying out for that position. There are countless drills to run, plays to memorize, exercises to do. But the end result is a well-trained athlete. All too often, Christians seem to look past all of the work to the end results that they desire. We long for rounded lives and seasoned faith, but we are not willing to put in the grunt work that leads to these goals. Does God in Heaven look down and commend us for our half-hearted efforts? I dare not say he does. How could he? We promise so many things every day, and then make following him a tiny part of our routine, if it is included at all. I'm not trying to be judgmental because I am included in this group. I would love to be a strong, devout Christian, but I often feel like I fall short. The steps necessary to making a real change seem daunting, and I can often convince myself to postpone starting.
How can we change this? How do you change anything? Work. Therein lies the root of most people's problems. We love the idea of being different and following God, but we don't love the practical application that leads to this fulfillment. We're all onboard with change, until we are forced to actually...well, change. Our boxes of comfort have become far too large and lavish. We live in a culture that is dependent on ease and laziness. I apologize for my negative words, but it is amazing to me how many people thrive on shortcuts. If there is an easy way to do something, we do it. The patterns that we form in one area of our lives affect every area of us. If we look for shortcuts at our jobs and in our families, we will seek shortcuts with God. I hate to burst your bubble, but God doesn't have shortcuts. He is always available for us to talk to, and constantly closer than we can fathom, but he does not approve of taking the easy way out. Change is the byproduct of pain. Change is rarely if ever simple. Sometimes it is forced upon us; sometimes we have to enact it, but it will always come with adjustment and some degree of discomfort.
I realize that not everyone who reads these words believes in God like I do. And I also realize that, for some of you, part of the reason you don't believe falls to the fact that you see Christians acting in the way that I have described. For myself and for all of us, I apologize. Deeply and sincerely. We have amazing opportunities to let our lives be instruments to share God's love, but we are more concerned with other things. It is a confusing conundrum, and I don't blame any of you for being misled. That being said, I want to encourage you that there are genuine Christians out there. I am trying to be one myself. Don't give up faith.
Maybe this sounds like a sermon to you. That is not my intention. I want only to help us see how foolish we look at times. I imagine God saying, "It's so simple. Just trust me and do things differently." We were not called to be like the world. We were called to invade the world with our transformed lives. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing, and perfect will." (Romans 12:2) No part of that involves blending in. The longer we try to assimilate, the harder it is to come back to the life we know we should live. If you send an ant into a large group of ants and expect it to be able to garner the attention of the entire crowd and enact a change, you are only leading yourself on. For one thing, ants can't talk. I hope you already knew that. But on a serious note, the ones in this world who can effectively change things are those who do not fit in and appear to be just like everyone else. Jesus certainly didn't fit in. Neither do I don't want to fit in. I realize that I do settle for fitting in a lot of the time, and I am working to change that. One day at a time. Join me if you'd like. I pray that we would all have the strength to be different.
(Thanks for reading today my friends. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewormand)