When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. Luke 3:7-8a (MSG)
Have I changed? Am I different?
Along the journey I’ve experienced distinctly different types of life change. There is the radical change of direction that happens in a moment’s decision when you turn and walk in a different direction. Some change is hard earned and requires effort and perseverance. It’s like the steep hill that you attempt to climb over and over, only to slide back down to where you started. But you keep trying until that one day when you reach the top and can move on to the next ridge. Still other changes are more subtle. A minor course correction doesn’t feel like much in the moment, but as the miles go by you find that one degree of course change leads to a completely different destination. You hardly notice the change until you’ve arrived at the destination.
Life change. That’s the whole idea: new direction, the struggle to ascend, course correction, life transformation. The theme of John the Baptist’s message was no different than that of Jesus:
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…. I Peter 2:1-2
And the Apostle John:
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. I John 2:4-6
Have I changed? Because, if I haven’t, then what’s the point?