While considering Kenpo (karate) this morning with my head instructor, a thought struck me. One reason I love my karate school so much is because they don’t remain stuck in “their way” of doing things. When higher-up instructors further detail a technique or form, they first seek to understand the change and then immediately incorporate it into their curriculum.
Sometimes upset members complain as the changes filter into the curriculum, mainly because they have been practicing the old way for so long they hate to teach their bodies new tricks. It’s human nature to resist change, especially when something has become well-grounded through many hours of practice.
On the other hand, continual resistance to change stifles forward movement and inhibits growth.
God calls spiritual change “repentance,” and He requires this change from all His children. Jesus requires repentance as a first step in the journey of faith, as illustrated in His instructions to His disciples in Luke 24.47, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.” To a heartbroken crowd, Peter proclaimed the good news, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38), and again, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 4.19).
Because repentance is a change of course, we resist. After all, it is just easier to keep our old friends, walk our old paths, listen to our old music, watch our old shows, and use our old tongues.
Picture walking in the door after a long work day. Compare sitting on the couch (like normal) with walking your neighborhood for 20 minutes (like you feel you should). Isn’t building that new habit tough? Funny thing is, if you build the habit of walking every day, you will hate to change that habit!
Yes, change is tough, so we require a powerful reason. Showing someone a black lung from the body of a cancer victim is often not enough for smokers to tackle their addictions. Many obese folks refuse to change their eating and exercising habits. In the same way, many sinners refuse to tackle their sins, even when they can see pain caused by those sins! Why must folks hit rock-bottom before they change course?
Also, many of us don’t have the proper tools with which to tackle sin. We hate it but don’t know what to do about it. Good news: God saturates our lives with spiritual gifts through His word and the church! If you don’t know how to tackle sin in your life, ask a spiritual brother or sister. Assuming they know God’s word, they will at least begin to point you in the right direction. Ask God to show you how to deal with your sin, and listen for His answers.
Don’t resist change in your life–God built you to live the right and best way. You must constantly adjust the trajectory of your life in order to keep lining up with Jesus Christ. Sometimes you won’t change enough…sometimes you will over-correct and must swing back a little. Enjoy the journey, and accept the changes God demands. Repentance leads to life!