How People Change

Spring.

It’s the season of rebirth, new growth, cleansing rain, and full light.

From my seat I watch a bee build, a bird perch, flowers flutter, wind revealed as blossoms blow.

And while Autumn’s beauty is my seasonal scene of choice, the excitement and ever newness of Spring is contagious and never unwelcome.

And as the landscape around me breaths and whispers it’s well rehearsed tune, I myself am prepping for and expectant of a new season of soul.

How People Change is a deeply personal and renewing study that leaves you open, raw at times, but equipped with truth, and clothed in the knowledge of your righteousness through Christ. It’s my goal to weekly share my journey through the class with you as well. It is so worth unpacking on here. 

This group study that I’ve joined in began with an intensive look at the “future orientation” of my heart. 

“What hopes and goals give direction to your life?” 
 
Every decision, every emotional reaction is directly dependant on the goal of my heart. 
 
Whether it’s a long term goal of being financially secure or an immediate desire for appreciation and approval my goals are reflected in how I train my child in front of strangers, how I react when my husband doesn’t notice I’ve done the dishes, or how my spirit handles a tight budget or a poorly reviewed blog post. 
 
{ugh! getting painfully real right there.} 
 
Recognizing what my spirit yearns for and what my energy is invested in pursuing is tough to swallow, but it’s a vital first step towards change. 
 
Wrapping up that lesson with a look at Revelation 7:9-17 was the perfect way to begin my heart’s re-orientation process. 
 
Far exceeding the beauty of Spring, the loveliness of wind blown blossoms, and the wonder of the robin’s nest is the grandeur of what’s to come: 
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

If my heart is bent on making the name of God big and is confident in the hope of my future destination, then idols of approval and security will bear little to no influence on the decisions I make on a daily basis.

Easy huh?!

No, not really. The roads traveled in pursuit of these idols have taken me far off course, the ruts are deep, the exit difficult to navigate to and with plentiful opportunities for re-entry.

That’s why “Christianity’s change process does not revolve around a system of redemption but around the Person who redeems” {p. 10}.

There is no google maps with turn by turn directions for taking you from point A {disaster} to point B {Christ-like perfection}.

Lesson 2 anticipates this despair and meets you in the middle of your rubble, your life’s 10-year plan demolition zone, and introduces Christ and his all-sufficient means of grace.

 

“What daily benefits are yours because your marriage to Christ?”

The lesson really challenged me on how I view Christ. Is he an employer that evaluates my performance, a teacher who tracks my progress? Or is he my bridegroom that loves me unconditionally and supplies everything I need for life and godliness?

Personalizing Col. 1:15-23 was extremely effective in revising my understanding of my relationship to Jesus.

Following a pattern of “since he is ___________”, filling in the blank with a characteristic listed in Colossians 1, “then _______________”, completely turned my assumptions about Christ’s attitude towards me upside down! 

For example: “Since he is the reconciler of all things {vv. 20, 22}, then there is no wrath left for me” {italics are my personalization}.

Armed with this realization of what I truly live for on my own and yet how Christ pursues and loves me is beautiful and life-changing, but that change cannot be lasting or fully experienced unless it is done through community, a group of individuals who are well aware of my needs and are invited and welcome to lovingly and consistently speak truth to me. This truth may be that of holding up the person of Christ before my soul’s eyes or talking straight about the ugliness of the sin I’m harboring.

Either way, lesson 3 gives you the uncomfortable feeling that things are about to get personal.

I can talk about what I recognize as sin my life and how Christ is so good and wonderful all. day. long. But inviting others to point out what they see as sin in my life or how I’m not rightly understanding Christ’s character?! Forget about it.

Naturally, I resist that. I sprint in the other direction.

But God meant for change to be a community project. That’s why this study is done in a group of individuals, not me in my jammies all alone in my living room.

“God himself lives in a community!” The Father, Son, and Spirit share in perfect unity with each other and because of Christ we are introduced into that community as well.

The beauty I’m witnessing beyond my porch is the result of death, seeds being buried, ground being broken, stones being dug out, and rain pouring down. Without the pain of preparation there is no rebirth.

These lessons have been a bit painful, but it’s worth it because Spring is about to come to my soul.

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One comment

  1. […] case you missed it, I just began a series based on the How People Change group study I’m involved in at my church. Last week we laid […]

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