A couple of years ago as I spoke once again on change, one woman retorted, ‘there is nothing wrong with me’. I realized I had not got my message across. For my point was not that there was something wrong with her personally, (no doubt there was), rather, that there is a lot in us that is not aligned with God’s perspective and needs to be; which is only to be expected because we live in a fallen world, because we have imbibed thought patterns, attitudes, habits and conduct that run counter to the thoughts and ways of God. It is that God has a higher standard for our lives than where we are living, that God wants to do more in us than we are letting Him. Does He love us despite it all, most certainly, otherwise we make the cross out to be an act of masochism and not of abnegation.
Nevertheless God has the peculiar idea that we need to change, and He is willing to undertake the task if we let Him. It’s simple really, we are not Christians by merit, but by favour. We don’t strut our stuff because there is no stuff to strut, and were it to be left to our coolness, we would be heading for the heat of hell with alacrity. He came to love us though we were not lovable, but He now wants to make us lovable, like Himself, really. So naturally salvation is the beginning of a process of transformation, whereby the adopted kid with the traumatic past, painful memories and irrational moody conduct is brought into a family of love, doted upon , gradually healed, restored, made healthy and taught decent manners and raised ‘properly’ and becomes the delight of His parents. We are that kid.
Insecurity prevents us from accepting it because we think seeing anything not wholly magnificent in ourselves will make us feel bad, feel condemned and worthless, yet when God puts His hand on something and rids us of it, we are cleansed, refreshed and empowered, not diminished. We are made happier, stronger, bigger inside and altogether triumphant. One more weakness is removed, then one more, and one more, and life takes on amazing hues and colours as the greyness of rebellion dissipates. Otherwise we go round in circles all our lives trying to bribe God to be nice to us against His word. and pretending we live awesome lives in God. We waste the amazing potential of our lives because we will not deal with the very issues that drag us down. We refuse to cooperate with God’s refining process and continue to stink.
And sometimes the stench gets really bad, and when we feel we are being overpowered by it, we act like the skunk complaining that the river is polluted. We point fingers at others, break off decent relationships, gossip, slander, deepen the grey, and intensify the stench; making others even less inclined to seek us out. It seems to me that even God must sometimes hold His nose. I cannot help thinking that the more like Him we are the more He enjoys our fellowship. Think of the most unbearable people around you, how long do you want to hang out with them? And how close do you allow them to get to you even when you must of necessity occupy the same space? For some, prayer is akin to torture, might it be our refusal to be transformed that prevents us from fully experiencing the joys of His presence? Afterall God, the Bible says, finds pride repellent.
Is it a wonder then that He enjoyed Jesus’s company so much when He was on the earth? You read the Gospels and Jesus was hanging out with the Father all the time and with the greatest ease. And a couple of times God actually spoke out and said ‘that’s My Son’ and ‘showed Him off’. I want to hear Him say, ‘that’s my baby’, so I often pray a very simple prayer, ‘Lord, change me’ and when I want to get really deep, I expand on it and say, ‘Lord, take the junk out of me’; and He does, and He does, and He does. And if you let Him, He will, and when people complain about you, you smile to yourself and think ‘if they had known me years ago, surely they would have been overpowered by the stench; but now, now, glory to God, now,’ and you do a Pentecostal jig, ‘nowwww, I am on my way to becoming what I was made to be …….. a Jesus clone’.