A couple key truths to remember about how life change happens.
It’s amazing to look back even 10 years ago and see how many things have completely changed, while other things are exactly the same.
Ten years ago my wife and I had one kid and we were playing double coverage. Now we have four kids, and we’re being completely dominated.
Also around 10 years ago, I got my first cell phone. And what could I do with it? Call people. Now my phone is smarter than I am. It tells me when to wake up. It tells me how much food I can and should eat. It even reminds me to read my Bible, like it’s a better Christian than I am.
Then some things are still the same. Ten years ago I was bald, and after praying for 10 years … I’m still bald.
And the Cincinnati Bengals still haven’t won a single playoff game (mainly because the Steelers are a bunch of cheaters.)
But seriously though, it’s amazing to look back at all the changes from 10 years ago, and also over the course of our lives.
More than time passing or the newest iPhone update, God is able to change our lives in crazy ways; ways that sometimes seem impossible.
Can God change me? And you? The answer: Yes!
The moment we start following Jesus every part of us changes:
Our life as a whole.
We are no longer the same. God changes us.
Now this might sound like a cute thought—that we’re changed by God—but how does it actually happen? Maybe you’ve wanted to change and you’ve tried to change. You’ve asked God to change you but it still seems like you’re the exact same person.
So when it comes to being changed by God, here are two different truths to remember:
1. It’s about a relationship, not rules.
Often when we think about being a Christian, we assume that God just wants us to do the right things and not do the wrong things. So often we turn being a Christian into a self-improvement program, a moral code.
But with Jesus it’s about a relationship, not rules.
The more we grow in our love and relationship with Jesus, and the closer we get to Him, the more He will begin to change us from the inside out:
Instead of being bitter, we’ll begin to extend grace.
Instead of doing what we want, we’ll begin to follow Jesus and His ways.
Instead of being critical and easily offended about everything, our life will be filled with His joy and His peace.
We’ll just begin to want more and more of God in our life, and because of it our life will begin to change.
Once more, it’s about a relationship, not rules.
2. We need to kill our old self!
Sounds kind of intense, right? To be changed, though, we have to kill our old self!
It’s understanding that when we follow Jesus our old self and the person we used to be has been nailed to a cross, crucified with Christ. Because of Jesus we’re made new, a new creation.
When I start following Jesus my old self is dead, and I’m not just a better person, I’m not just a self-improved person, but so much more because of the cross I’m made new. I am truly changed by God.
Part of being made new is getting rid of our old self, killing the person we used to be.
It’s like, Jesus, today I’m following you, and anything in my life that’s not pleasing to you, help me to leave it behind, help me to kill it.
Starting in my soul, if there’s lies I’m believing.
Or things I’m holding on to.
Or if there’s stuff I’m doing that I’m convinced is okay but it’s not.
Jesus, please help me not to be nice, but to kill these things in my life.
Again, can God change you? Can God change me? Yes!
How do we change? We need to kill our old self.
Bonus material: I just want to be upfront and say that these two things—making it about a relationship with Jesus, not rules and killing our old selves—will not be easy. God is the one who changes us, starting on the inside, but we do play a role in being changed. And as we know in other areas of our life, making changes is not always fun or easy.
If it’s about a relationship, not rules, we need to get ourselves close to Jesus. Like on a regular basis we need to spend time with God.
And when it comes to killing our old self, our old self will try anything to stick around. There might be parts of our old self that we really like. We might have to give up some things and people that we genuinely enjoy.
And yet hear this: It’s so worth it.
A life spent with Jesus is so much better than any life we could find on our own.
We are changed, we are made new by the One who set the stars in place.
Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace—a church that has six campuses in South Dakota and Minnesota—and the author of Talking With God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (WaterBrook, 2017). This article was originally published on AdamWeber.com.