Christ and Change
Change is a scary word to most people. Folks live in their “comfort zones” and routines, and they get very uncomfortable (even fearful) when anything changes. But when a person comes face to face with Jesus Christ and sees his or her sins and faults for what they are, he/she realizes that change must come. Becoming a Christian involves more than receiving forgiveness for sins and going to church. True repentance is needed which leads to a life transformed into the image of the Son of God.
Paul uses the picture of putting off the old man and putting on the new as he writes about this necessary change in Christ. Let’s take the thief, for example. He specifically tells the thief that he must stop stealing. This seems so obvious we wonder why it is even said, but when we reflect it becomes clear. Some people want to continue in their sinful ways and expect Christ to just keep forgiving them! Sin and evil of every sort must be forsaken.
But simply removing sinful conduct is not enough. Christ looks the thief in the eye and says, “There is more.” The thief is to replace stealing with honest work. Good is to replace evil. One’s life must reflect the teaching and life of Christ. For the thief, he has to learn to work and be responsible. The liar must learn to tell the truth. The adulterer must learn faithfulness. Put off - put on.
But Jesus is not done with the thief. The thief has pursued a lifestyle of taking from others for himself. As with all of us sinners, he has a heart problem as well. What if he works hard but consumes everything he makes on himself? This would not be like Christ. So the final instruction for the thief is that some of his honest work must go toward sharing with those in need. The thief must be “renewed in the spirit of ‘his’ mind” and learn to look beyond himself, jettison selfishness, and put on love and compassion.
Putting off the old self with its corrupt ways can be a challenge, but Christ will help us get it done. He has the power!