Many of us are resistant to change in general. We like the patterns and the habits we live in, and we resist efforts to shake things up. Though we may feel opposed to change, the Christian life is all about changing. Our priorities, our speech, our priorities – all aspects of our lives change when we put on the name of Christ. We then continue to change as we develop spiritually and face new challenges in our Christian lives.
In Joshua 3, the people of Israel is about to cross the Jordan River. They have a new leader and are about to enter a land new and unfamiliar to them. They are literally treading new ground (verse 4), and the people are told to follow the path of the Ark so they know where to go. God has a plan for how they are to proceed, and, despite apprehensions or expectations, the people have to follow.
Facing Christian Change
- We should face change calmly. Once we are ready to head in the right direction, we simply have to trust in God. In Luke 9:57, various individuals are invited or volunteer to follow Jesus, but few do because they look back at other concerns, but Jesus says that there is no looking back once committed. There is only a calm trust in God. Hebrews 6:1 invites us to press forward, one step at a time, toward spiritual completion.
- We need endurance. Hebrews 11 speaks of several heroes of faith who have pressed on before us, and chapter 12 encourages to endure as they did. We face temptations and discouragement. The changes required by Christ take continuous effort, and we need to build up endurance to persist in that life.
- We should be compliant. When facing the unknown, we should fall back onto God’s word. The children of Israel had a pattern to follow in entering their new land, and we also have a pattern. Hebrews 2:1 tells us to give heed to what we learn as Christians. Otherwise we risk drifting away and back into our old patterns. Hearing, but not doing, is not enough to keep us close to God. James 1:22 tells us that behaving this way is a form of self-deception, and Matthew 7:21 continues to reinforce the role of obedience in pleasing God. When we change to become a Christian, we have to be willing to comply to the patterns and lifestyle modeled in the scriptures.
- We need confidence. In Joshua 3, the Ark stands as a symbol of God’s presence before His people. It inspires confidence in those it precedes. We pray for God to “guide, guard, and direct us,” and this is exactly what He is doing in Joshua 3. Hebrews 4:13-15 speaks to the confidence we can have in our new relationship with God, and Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is capable of things beyond or imagination. We know what He has promised those faithful to Him, and we can be confident in those assurances He has given us (Philippians 4:13).
- We can face our change cheerfully. Not every aspect of our Christianity will always bring us joy, but the attitude we face these aspects will influence how much we are affected. In Philippians 4:4, writing from prison, Paul calls in Christians to rejoice. We cannot always choose what we’ll experience, but we can always choose the attitude we have. I Peter 1:7-9 also tells of the joy we should have because of the salvation of our souls in Jesus, and Psalm 118:24 reminds us to be glad for every day the Lord gives us.
In trying to live as a Christian, we have to make changes, and there will be new experiences and challenges as a result of those changes. We need to face these changes and challenges calmly and with endurance. We need to comply with God’s word, confident in His promises, and cheerful for the redemption we are promised in these changes.
lesson by Tim Smelser