In the past two years, I have been given a senior citizen’s discount on coffee at McDonald’s – on three different occasions. Just a few weeks ago, I pulled my hamstring while running a little faster than usual. Recently, while dining at a sushi restaurant with some New Life members, I asked a waitress how old I looked. She said that I looked about 55 years old. I couldn’t believe what she said. When I asked her the same question again, she said that I looked between 50 and 60 years old. She wouldn’t go below 50 years in guessing my age.
The truth is I am 50 years old, my body is breaking down and I guess I look old. Okay, I do look old! This is reality.
In my heart, I still feel like I am in my mid-twenties. So I go out in the sun without putting any sunscreen on. I try to run as fast as I can without properly stretching beforehand. I attempt to lift heavy objects all by myself. But the reality is I am not in my mid-twenties any longer. This is very hard to accept. However, if I don’t accept this reality, I will not change my lifestyle, which will cause much damage to my aging body.
We have a very difficult time accepting the truth about ourselves because by nature we are very self-assured. We believe what we believe about our own selves to be true no matter what others around us say. In my case, it took discounted coffee (three different times), a pulled hamstring, and an unforgiving waitress to finally accept the reality that I am not as young as I feel. Unless I accept this reality, I will not change.
The same applies to our character. When we are by ourselves, we tend to think that we are pretty decent human beings. For example, we don’t get mad, angry, impatient, selfish or greedy when there is no one around. We seem perfectly content when no one is there to bother or hurt us. However, our true character is revealed when we are thrust into a community setting where we have to deal with other people. It is through interpersonal relationships that we find out about our true selves. In other words, we can’t know about our true selves unless we get deeply involved in relationships with other human beings.
God wants us to be like Jesus. This is called transformation or sanctification. This means we must change a lot because no one is perfectly like Jesus. We have a long ways to go and lots of room to change in becoming more like Christ. But change is not possible until we see our true selves. As long as we think we are okay, we will not want to change because we believe there isn’t much to change. And it is so easy for us to think this way when we are all by ourselves without being in relationships with other people.
This is one of the main reasons why God created church. Because He wants us to become more like Jesus in his character, He wants us to live closely with each other in church community where we can know who we truly are. Through our house church community, much of who we really are gets revealed if the house church is functioning the way it is supposed to. Our impatience, laziness, temper, greed, selfishness, arrogance, critical attitude, judgmental spirit, indifference, overbearing tendency, misplaced priority, materialism, idolizing of our children and a whole bunch of our negative character traits tend to come out as we rub shoulders with each other in very close proximity and on a very frequent basis. And when these ungodly traits are revealed and displayed in our house church, we don’t leave each other alone because we are committed to help each other change and grow to become more like Christ.
It will not be easy for us to hear from our own house church members that we are being selfish when we are habitually late, that we are overbearing during the sharing time because we talk too much, that we are materialistic and pursuing after the things of this world, that we idolize our children, or that we have an anger issue. But we must be confronted with the reality about ourselves if we want to change to become more like Christ. Without hearing painful truths about ourselves, we have no chance of changing to become more like Christ.
So if you think you are okay and you don’t think there is much to change in your life, then keep your distance from house church members and be by yourself. However, if you want to change and grow in your character to become more like Christ, then get close to your house church members by opening up your life and being vulnerable to them. There is no other way. Be prepared to hear the truth from them about yourself. Learn to accept the reality about yourself. Then, come to Jesus and cry out to Him, asking Him to help you change. He will gladly help you.
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