Recently, one of the email chains I get was talking about change. The email was about how to make change last. In the email, the writer was quoting a friend of his who is a very successful New York Times Best-Selling self-help author. The quote from this author went like this: “I don’t believe most people actually ever change all that much. That may be strange to hear coming from someone who has dedicated their life to helping people change, but I don’t think most people actually change.”
How true this is. So many people in this world want change. And yet, they can often attempt to make a change and then end up reverting back to where they were before.
The author of this email goes on to state the following:
“It’s not because they can’t. It’s because they don’t know what they don’t know. This ‘knowing’ deficit falls into 2 categories…
“1. Most people don’t know what’s actually possible for them.
“Most people have a hard time being able to imagine what’s actually possible for their life experience. They feel ‘good enough,’ and can’t imagine what feeling ‘great’ even is – or that it’s possible for them. They come to accept the malaise. The potential for life remains perpetually on hold as they fall into the norm that Thoreau once accurately described… ‘The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.’
“2. Most people don’t understand how change actually works
“We think that the way we find greater peace, meaning, freedom, joy and purpose is by focusing on making external changes and quick fixes. The real transformation comes from fixing the foundation. You won’t live differently until you see the world and yourself differently. Sure you can muscle through a diet for a couple of months, but unless your internal operating system changes (your beliefs and sources of meaning) at some point you’re going to find yourself right back at the starting line. This is how it is for everything. External transformation starts with internal transformation.
“Lasting change is an inside-out job.”
As we view this from a Christian perspective, how true this really becomes. When we are called by God and we start to understand the Truth, we are expected to change. Yet, how deeply do we integrate Christian changes into our lives? When we start to make great changes in our lives, we feel invigorated and have a sense of relief. We are zealous and on fire. But as time starts to take its toll in a Christians life, and things start to creep back in or trials and tests happen, that “malaise” can start to set in. The future that we once looked forward to can grow dim and seem increasingly out of reach. The hope for the future, for the Kingdom of God—that which helps to propel us forward—can become dull.
In order to do these things properly, we must allow Christ to be our rock—our true foundation. How do we do this? How do we make sure that we are changing as Christians? We need to be overwriting our carnal operating system. The old person needs to go and needs to be replaced—but with what?
Christ plainly tells us that we must build our foundation—who we are inside (and this takes continual effort, dedication, perseverance, care, watchfulness, searching and changing throughout our lifetime) in order to make it through this life.
In Matthew 7:24-29, we read: “‘Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.’ And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
What actions is Christ talking about? What changes are God and Christ looking for within us? Will those things–if we put them into practice in our lives, (because it takes action)–allow us to be able to stand on the rock as we go through life’s trials (rain, floods, winds)? The answers are in the previous verses, in chapters 5-7. Notice the headings in the New King James Bible:
- The Beatitudes
- Believers Are Salt and Light
- Christ Fulfills the Law
- Murder Begins in the Heart
- Adultery in the Heart
- Marriage Is Sacred and Binding
- Jesus Forbids Oaths
- Go the Second Mile
- Love Your Enemies
- Do Good to Please God
- The Model Prayer
- Fasting to Be Seen Only by God
- Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
- The Lamp of the Body
- You Cannot Serve God and Riches
- Do Not Worry
- Do Not Judge
- Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking
- The Narrow Way
- You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
- I Never Knew You
- Build on the Rock
There is a TON of content in these three chapters, things that we can all take action on. If we want to change as Christians, we have to be willing to do the internal work that it takes. Oftentimes, we can get stuck in the knowing—and yet not actually digging in and dealing with the things that matter in this life.
In preparation for the Passover, Paul warns us all to really think about who we are on the inside—the person who cannot be hidden from God. In 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, he gives us good insight: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
To examine ourselves and to take action on those things that are wrong is the ticket. We all fall short in some areas. That is why we are admonished to examine—to seek them out. God is willing and fast to forgive our sins when we see a sin and repent of it. When we are in this mindset of seeking out how to build better on the rock—how to fortify and make ourselves stronger—we will be making good changes in our lives.