Change is difficult. The older we get the more difficult it is. I am most comfortable when today’s routine is very much like yesterday’s routine. Unfortunately, we all are changing all the time. Most of the time those changes are making us worse and not better. We know this is true with physical changes. Joints don’t work as well as they used to and experiencing a new pain every morning seems to be one of the only things that doesn’t change.
Physically I may be falling apart, but God’s expectation is that spiritually I am getting better every day. God’s purpose for us is that we would be perpetually becoming more like Jesus every day. This expectation is the backdrop for what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6. The Corinthians are acting like they have always acted or worse. Paul makes it very clear that his expectations for them are not being met. He strongly encourages them to change.
The word that we use to describe this expectation of change is repentance. Repentance means a changing of mind or a turning about. Why don’t we invite people to change? I can’t remember the last time I heard an invitation that included the concept of repentance. The typical invitation made in churches is to say a prayer to invite God into your life. If you do that, you’ll experience forgiveness and be guaranteed eternal life. Yes, these are good changes, but I don’t think they’re what God has in mind. We should expect that when we put God in charge of our lives that there will be massive changes that will take place.
Thinking about this has caused me to think about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What do we think the Holy Spirit in us is for if not to guide us to change to be more like Jesus? While providing practical instructions for Christian living Paul makes this comment in the book of Ephesians:
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30 NIV)
What would grieve the Holy Spirit? I think that Paul is thinking about the person who has the Holy Spirit inside, but who constantly chooses to ignore the promptings and instructions provided. When the Holy Spirit says go right this person goes left and the Holy Spirit grieves. The Holy Spirit is in the change business. However, the Holy Spirit never forces us to do anything. We intentionally choose whether we will listen to the Holy Spirit or not. What I don’t hear I can’t respond to. What I don’t want to hear I won’t respond to.
We have constant debates about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think we spend nearly enough time talking about the role of the Spirit in helping us change to become more like Jesus.
For my grandchildren:
Decide to listen for God’s voice through His Spirit. Then choose to do what He says.