But Will It Change You?
It was after the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. After the rice pudding smothered in strawberry sauce. It was then that I began asking my sister-in-law for advice. She is a personal trainer and I have some parts of me that could use a little toning up and I wondered what sorts of exercises would target these areas. She began talking about walking and lunges and squats. She demonstrated there in the kitchen, and me with dishtowel in hand, copied to be sure that I could get it right. She laid out a little routine that would include a walk punctuated with sets of ten walking lunges. I started to smile and chuckle, that would look really funny to see me out for a walk and then suddenly break my stride to do a set of walking lunges, right there on the sidewalk. What would the neighbours think? But looking at her face I could tell that she really wasn't thinking about what the neighbours would think. I had asked how to tone up some muscles and she was telling me. I made a mental note to try to figure out a way to do walking lunges within the walls of my house.
However, that was last week. Her words are still fresh in my mind, but guess who hasn't done one single lunge or squat. That's right. Me. I have, however, had a piece of pie or cake every single day. It turns out that I didn't have to fear that the neighbours would think I was crazy, because I asked advice that I have never acted upon. There has been no change in my behaviour.
It reminds me of last Sunday. Driving home from church my husband and I were talking over the message we heard. Our pastor is doing a series on the Beatitudes. Last Sunday he spoke about being merciful. He talked about the connection between mercy and justice and he said so many good things, drawing connections from scripture and making the application very plain.
I mentioned to my husband that it was a very good message. My husband gripped the steering wheel and said rather forcefully - he is a very calm man so his forcefulness was somewhat surprising - he said, "Yes it was, but will it change you?"
I was a little taken aback. Why is he so concerned that the message needs to change me? Am I particularly short on mercy?
Before I could become too offended, he explained what is going on in his head. Week after week we listen to excellent speaking, during the week there are opportunities to listen to speakers online or on the radio, we read books and articles, we chat with other believers, we attend Bible studies and there is hearing and hearing and hearing the Word, but the real question becomes, is it changing us? Or do we listen and nod, smile and chuckle because we know that there is no way we are going to be doing anything that radical. What would the neighbours think?
It is hard to take the information and actually apply it, but that is what needs to happen, if the information is going to be useful in anyway. This is what is frustrating my husband. Why do we go and take up space in a church on Sunday morning if we are not going to let the words that are being taught change our behaviour, our attitudes and our thinking? If we don't let the Word of God work in us, then it is all just a waste of time.
I asked my sister-in-law for exercise advice, but truthfully, I had a pretty good idea what needs to happen. Less pie, more exercise for starters. I also know that I'm not great at fitting exercise into my daily routine. I was pretty sure that whatever advice she gave me would be rather difficult to follow through on and then the bit about doing walking lunges outside for all the world to see and I was pretty much ready to chuck the whole idea and go for seconds of rice pudding.
Maybe it's like that with the scriptural teaching we receive too. We want the results of a Christian life. We want to enjoy the peace and joy, the intimacy with our Saviour, but if it isn't comfortable to make the hard choices, to give up certain entertainments or simply make time for things that are better, we harden our heart and simply keep on walking our own path.
These messages we are hearing on Sunday mornings about the beatitudes are all about living radically. This is what Jesus taught about being part of His kingdom. This is the kind of living He prescribes for His followers and the question rings out clearly;
Will it change you?