The Myth of 180 Degree Change

The following is stuff that I meant to say in a recent sermon…but ran out of time…

No matter how much you grow spiritually, you will always be you. An acorn does not grow up to be a rose bush, just an oak. It might be a healthy oak, it might be a sickly oak, but it will never grow out of its oakness. You will never grow out of your youness.

I read recently about the myth of 180-degree change, that if I really grow spiritually I would become a completely different person, different personality, and different temperament, all that kind of stuff. It doesn’t happen. Those of you who are raging extraverts and you know who you are, don’t you get tired of putting your foot in your mouth all the time, of saying things you regret. Don’t you wish that you could become more like those of us who are introverted? More wise, more calm, more restrained, more prudent. It’s never going to happen. It’s too bad because we all wish that you would become more like that.

Here’s the deal, some things about you will never change no matter how much you grow spiritually. Your raw material, your basic wiring, your metabolism, your DNA, they’ll just get redirected. Before the Apostle Paul met Jesus, he was a brilliant, passionate, zealous man who persecuted people. After he met Jesus, guess what? He was a brilliant, passionate, zealous man who sacrificed himself in order to serve people and God.

Before Chuck Colson met Jesus, he was a man marked by drive and high levels of motivation and ambition, and he used it to gain power. After he met Jesus, guess what? He was man marked by high levels of drive, motivation and ambition, and now he used it to serve Jesus by helping prisoners all around the world.

You will always be you. That means the stuff that you wrestle with is what you will always wrestle with. When I look at my journal from 10 years ago I noticed three words kept describing the stuff that I wrestled with, and I realized that those three words…ten years later…are still my words, still my struggle. At first that was kind of depressing until the realization came, you’ve got words, I’ve got words, as long as I’m alive that will be the stuff I wrestle with. You wrestle with sin patterns that are kind of unique to you.

Now here’s the good news: What happens when you grow, what happens when you flourish is you become more you. You see, God created you, God created everything. This part’s real clear in Genesis, everything God made, it said God would look at it and God saw that it was good, and that includes you.

Redemption is always the redemption of creation. God doesn’t say, “Well, this is the stuff I created, but now I’m going to get rid of it.” In fact in Romans 8, it talks about how creation itself is groaning for the revelation of the sons and the daughters of God so that creation itself can be set free from its frustration because God intends to redeem what He created.

That means He intends to redeem, to liberate, to set free you, and you as you grow spiritually will become more you. You just won’t get holier, you will get youier. Sounds like Dr. Seuss, doesn’t it? You’re going to become more and more the you that He thought up. That’s a real good thing, and part of what you need to do to grow spiritually is embrace that God made you to be you.

One of the great barriers to our growing spiritually is we are not grateful that there is someone like me on this planet, someone like you. I know we’re all junked up. I know there is sin, but see we are the creation of God and redemption is the redemption of creation, and God’s plan is just for you to get youier and youier and youier throughout all eternity, and that’s a good thing.

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6 thoughts on “The Myth of 180 Degree Change

  1. The older we become the more we realize the only thing God asks of us is total commitment and to trust Him to refine and redirect our “youness.” It may be the only thing but it certainly is the most difficult! Everything else pretty much hinges on that commitment. I guess that explains all the “hoof and mouth” and “lock jaw” that seems to permiate the Christian community; some of us keep reneging on our commitment.

  2. I am a little confused, as I often am 🙂 I understand the redemption of creation, but I am not sure why you assert that growing spiritually does not mean that you will become holier. I would think that as Christ peels back the layers of what is not really me, the redeemed me that is revealed would, by extension become holier. Not “holier than thou”, but holier, as he commands us to be.
    I appreciate that you discuss the fact that God’s plan is not for us to be disembodied spirits flitting about in some astral plane, but to redeem His Creation and restore it to its original intent, that is, His glory. Nothin’ but love for you, Joseph.

  3. I did not mean that as I grow sprititually that I would NOT grow holier. What I meant is that as I grow spiritually the Joe that God always had in mind when he dreamt me up a millennia millennia ago will slowly begin to emerge. I won’t me wholly different than I am now, just holier version of the me I am now.

    Scriptures teach that we will recieve a glorified body in heaven. I take that to mean that I will get the body I should have had I not abused the one I have now. It will be the body I should have worn had I not been infected the the spiritual DNA of Adam. I think I will still be Joe recognizable—but I will be a better Joe.

    Think wholistically—body, soul, mind and spririt.

    Think—Joe Chambers 2.0

  4. Perhaps you meant to say, “You WON’T JUST get holier, you will get youier.”…instead of, “You JUST WON’T get holier, you will get youier.” I think that is why I was confused.

    I agree with the Joe Chambers 2.0 analogy…although He may give you a cool new name like Steel 1.0. 😉

  5. Great point that we will always retain our characteristics,just hopefully a much better character. So correct that what we struggle with will always remain our cross to bear,but if we look honestly at them we will also find the strength to overcome through grace,forgiveness,love and acceptance. It is hard to realize that I am still the same fellow,just redeemed and hopefully under construction. God bless all.

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