It’s time for a change! This is echoed from our pulpits and in our politics. But change, as we know, can be painful. That’s why change is so strongly resisted whenever or wherever its time has come.
Some people change when they see the light. Others change only when they feel the heat. Where is the change in our church since the recent call for revival and reformation, issued more than a decade ago?
A biblical master plan for change is provided by the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:
1. Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth (verses 1-11).
2. As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (verses 12-14).
3. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body, and be thankful (verses 15-17).
When we practice this master plan and follow its instructions faithfully, who or what will we be? The answer is found in 1 John 3:1: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” We are children of God, not only by adoption, but the Greek word for child indicates that He personally gave birth to every believer.
We are children of the King of kings, and the world does not know us because (1) it doesn’t know that He, God, once walked this earth; (2) like those in the world, we are exposed to the common calamities of life: temptation, transgression, depression, death; (3) the world has no idea that our presence preserves them (1 Cor. 2:6-9).
We are now children of God, but it has not yet been made manifest “what,” not “who,” we will be (1 John 3:2). Right now, as we wait for the second coming of Christ, we are born-again, bought-and-paid-for children of God. And we should be like Him, filled with life, light, and love (Col. 3:4). But in order to know “what” we will be, we have to live by hope and wait by faith until Jesus comes. We have a present duty not only to look like Him but to be like Him. As children of God, we have not just His name, but also His nature; we are joint heirs with Christ by rebirth and regeneration (Rom. 8:16, 17).
Those who have their hope fixed on Christ change or purify themselves, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3). As our Lord is holy, we are to be holy (1 Peter 1:15). We are not like hypocrites who make allowances for the gratification of impure desires and lusts; but as children of God we allow Him to cleanse our heart from all unrighteousness (James 4:7-10).
So let’s not only speak of change, as do those who think of changing others more than changing themselves. Let’s not get frustrated that we cannot change the world or make others as we wish them to be. Let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus, the only one who can change us, and who knows what we will be.
Hyveth Williams is a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.