God’s big plan – change!
Change. I wonder what goes off in you when you hear that word? For some, change is the most exciting thing in the world. It offers new challenges, new experiences, new horizons. For others, change is more scary! What will it involve? What will it require of me? Where will it lead?
Think: What sort of person would you say that you are in this area? How do you personally respond to change?
Change lies at the very heart of the Christian faith – though few in the West would think so. For most people, Christianity is about anything but change; rather, it seems to be about keeping to the same old things from a distant and dusty past. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
God’s ultimate plan is to change everything! But his plan for changing everything begins with his plan for changing you. From start to finish, the Christian faith is all about change. And because God lies behind this change, it is an adventure that none of us need fear and that all of us can get excited about!
Let’s read just one passage from the Bible that sums up the complete change that God is going to bring to this world at the very end of human history.
Read: Revelation 21 v1-5
What, from this passage, are some of the things that are going to be made new or changed at ‘The End’?
God wants to start this process of change right now, however. As a new Christian, you are a living demonstration of the change that can happen when an individual puts their faith in Jesus and is born again. As Christians together (the church), we are a living demonstration of the change that can happen to a group of people when they live together as Jesus wants them to.
Whether new Christian or old, whether individually or together, we are all in the process of change – moving towards that final and fantastic goal that God has got for us.
This study in the ‘Basics’ series is designed to help you explore some of the areas that God wants to change in your life. Some changes will come easily, others will need working at. Some will come quickly, others will take a lifetime! Some you will love, others you will hate! (Well, at least at first!)
Think: Are there areas of life where you can already see that God has been saying that things need to change?
The important thing to remember is this: we are all in this process of change together. None of us has arrived; all of us are still on the way. And we are here to help each other in the process. Best of all, God himself is here to help us too, bringing change within us as little steps on the way towards his ultimate plan of changing all things.
A new creation
The old ... and the new
Read: 2 Corinthians 5 v17
What do you think the writer meant by the following expressions:
This is what has happened to you if you have been born again. The trouble is, it can sometimes seem like there is still lots of the old me left in there and that there is a lot of catching up to do for it to come in line with the new me! But God can, and wants to, change us.
No matter what we have done or been, God can change us. The key issue is: will we let him?
Let’s look at one church that was full of people who had been involved in all sorts of things before God changed them.
Read: 1 Corinthians 6 v9-11
What does this passage show us about what these people used to be like?
What does the first sentence of v11 bring home to us however?
Christians do not become perfect overnight – but then, you have probably discovered that already! In fact, we could even describe the church like this:
The Church is a community of people who still sin, but who are being changed by the power of God.
Partners with the Holy Spirit
This giving of ourselves to be changed is what is known as sanctification – the process of co-operating with the Holy Spirit so that more and more of the old can pass away and more and more of the new can come – in reality, and not just in theory.
The best news is: this process is not about our self-effort. It is about being partners with the Holy Spirit so that, little by little, we can be transformed to become more and more like Jesus.
Read: 2 Corinthians 3 v18
What words here indicate that changing as a Christian is a process?
Who lies behind this change?
Without the Holy Spirit, all our attempts to change will be both frustrating and fruitless.
Remember this key thought as we continue through this study, and bring the Holy Spirit into every aspect that we look at.
The struggle and the solution
Paul, one of the key leaders in the early church, acknowledged the struggle that still goes on within all of us at times in this process of change. But he also knew that God has an answer for it.
Read: Romans 7 v15-25(a)
Can you identify with this sort of struggle? Can you share any areas where this struggle is going on for you at the moment?
Who does Paul say is the answer to this struggle? (v25)
So, there can be an inward struggle at times in this process of changing. But God has an answer for the struggle. He sent Jesus, and still sends his Spirit, to help us.
© Oxfordshire Community Churches 1999