A co-worker said something to me this week that really stuck with me. It seemed so simple and yet so amazingly profound. We are attempting to make some wholesale changes to the way we do things at my day job in an effort to improve not only efficiency and profit, but to improve the experience of working there for everyone. And there is a lot of discussion about how to do that. And it becomes very easy to get distracted from the actual doing when there is so much talk about how it should be done. So, eager to start moving towards improvement, my friend said:
"Nothing will change if you don't actually change something." - Thomas Ney
You see, when we want change, we tend to want it a lot more in theory than we do in actual practice. Whether it is at work, at home, in a relationship, or in the church. And the same holds true for our Spiritual lives. We all want to change for the better - to be closer to God, to be more obedient, and to be more Christ-like. So I have some advice if this describes you:
Nothing will change if you don't actually change something.
I know we Christians are very "Spiritual," and I know that we Young, Restless, and Reformed types believe that God's sovereignty has no limits, and I know that being a Christian is not about what we do but it's about who we are. I get all that. I preach it every Sunday. But we are Spiritual beings living in this world for a reason. And though God is sovereign over every molecule that ever was, He in no way ever let's us forget that we are responsible for our actions (pick a random page in the Bible and you will see that). And even though the "who we are" is what makes us children of God - the "what we do" should be more important to us than those who don't know God.
In other words, if you want to be closer to God, do something about it - draw close to God. If you want to be more obedient, do something about it - obey. If you want to be more Christ-like, do something about it - spend more time getting to know Him. It is really very simple, and yet so... no, wait... it's just simple.
I know we want to "let go and let God" as Christians, but that doesn't mean doing nothing! None of us stay laying in bed, believing that if God actually wanted us to go to work that the Spirit of the Lord will carry us away there miraculously (Philip reference!). We get up, get ready, and go. Yet when it comes to growing in the Lord, we sit around and just hope that God will change us into super-Christians without us actually changing anything.
Well, it's time to change (Peter reference. Not Simon Peter, Peter Brady... Sha na na na na na na na)!
Change something if you want things to change. Read your Bible. Pray. Separate yourself from situations that lead you into temptation to sin - like anger, or envy, or lust. Start going to Bible study. Make church a priority on Sunday mornings. Stop hanging out with people, even good friends, if they pull you away from God when you're with them. Stop watching inappropriate movies. Stop going to inappropriate websites. Forgive that person you have been holding a grudge against.
Because nothing will change if you don't actually change something.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.