Things have changed
Things have changed. Things have permanently changed.
That was the lesson learned after my visit with my mother. Don’t take that to mean things are bad. They are not. But her life is changed. She will have to work at communication from now on. There are health concerns that have been uncovered that were previously unknown. There are even changes about how her every day life is conducted. Everything has changed. And even if we wanted to return to the way things used to be, we cannot.
As I drove home and thought about the change, it reminded me of the change we are all supposed to go through. Merriam-Webster defines the word “convert” as “to change from one form or function to another.” When we are converted, we are changed permanently from one form to another form.
In the simplest form this is often described as changing from darkness to light. The Lord told Paul that he was going to be a special servant to help the Gentiles turn from darkness to light (Acts 26:15–18).
Later Paul told the brethren at Ephesus, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). They were changed from one form (darkness) to another (light). And they were expected to act like their new form.
Peter talked about this change with a different description. He said, “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:3–4). Peter says that even your former friends should see this permanent change. He also says it is most notable in your behavior.
Paul spent most of Colossians 3 giving a detailed description of that change (vv. 1–16). This is illustrated with the idea of removing the old man and putting on, or becoming, a new man. Again, a permanent and irreversible change.
It is interesting that we understand this concept of change when it comes to health. When someone suffers from a stroke or is diagnosed with a disease, we can easily see that their lives have changed. We understand that behaviors cannot continue on like they once did. Perhaps they have to change their diet. Maybe they have to stop certain habits like walking without a walker or drive. We understand those physical changes that have to be made. We even understand they are permanent.
But when it comes to the spiritual change required when we become disciples, we fail to have the same understanding. But as Paul said there is a permanent change: you are light. And as Peter said there is a complete change in behavior—to the point that even friends will leave you. And it is intentional. You choose to become this new and different man. This new man.
If you are a disciple, things have changed. Things have changed permanently.