Did you ever play dodgeball as a kid? You know the game—someone flings a large ball at a group of kids who scramble wildly as they try to dodge the ball, and the last one remaining is the winner. I remember clear as a bell some insanely competitive games of elimination dodgeball in my elementary school gym. The teacher would roll the ball into the middle of the floor and shout, “Go get it!” All the kids would scatter away from the ball, and the biggest kid (not me) would saunter to the center of the floor, pick up the ball, and start firing rocket shots in all directions like guided missiles. We would huddle together and hide behind each other, terrified of being hit. We weren’t trying to win, just survive.
Sometimes I observe followers of Jesus playing a spiritual version of the same game. Most Christians agree in principle that God is trying to change them, but they dodge the specifics. “Change? God change me? Absolutely!” we often say, but in reality we are dodging the process. Willing to buy into change in general terms, we squirm and twist and dodge when God uses a person or circumstance to point out the specifics.
Let me give you a personal example: Not too long ago as I prepared to leave for work, I was feeling a bit frustrated about some things I would face that day, and I could feel my temperature rising. Just then my oldest son, Luke, came into the kitchen venting his own frustration about the pants he was wearing. He had left an orange magic marker in his pocket, and of course it had leaked during washing and deposited several large ink stains.
As he whined and complained, I reached the boiling point and proceeded to communicate with much intensity that it was not appropriate to vent his frustration on others simply because he was working through something that bothered him. About three-quarters of the way through my speech on the subject, it occurred to me that I was doing the very thing that I was exhorting him not to do. Ouch! God used that situation to highlight a specific area in my own life—outbursts of anger and frustration—that needed to change. (There’s still room for growth, but I’m holding on to the promise of Philippians 1:6 which says, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”)
God is at all times and in every way working to make you more like His Son. But that cannot happen unless you allow Him to point out both the specific sins that have to go and the specific good things that need to be added to your life. As long as you relax in the land of generalities, you will never experience the life-altering power of the gospel.
So, what about you? Are you ready to get serious about transformation? Listen, there can be no true commitment to personal life change without a willingness to get specific. Not someday . . . something . . . somehow. What does God want to work on in you right now?
In the next few editions of “The Weekly Walk,” we’re going to get very practical about this matter. Let’s get specific—and begin to experience life transformation that really sticks.