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Why Do We Resist Change?

by Robert Berendt
Germano Poli/iStock/Thinkstock
 

Some people say there are two things that are sure in life – death and taxes. (This phrase was coined by someone who hates paying tax, one would think.) I have always felt the one thing that is certain in life is change. Death and taxes are manifestations of change. Each of us need only to dig out some old photos to know how much we have changed. New hair styles, and an added “spare tire,” perhaps a moustache (if you are a man), a wrinkle here and there (and here and there), a gray hair (and then many) are some of the changes that are obvious. Add to that life’s experiences, education, changing jobs, moving to a different dwelling place, marriage and children, and there is a clear acknowledgement that change is ongoing, ever-present and inevitable in our lives.

Changes can be good and desirable. We embrace these kinds of changes and eagerly look forward to them. We do what we can to prepare for these good changes. Yet, even with good changes, it is apparent effort is needed. Often a hidden anchor is cast out, developments come that “put on the brakes” or that seem to challenge us to see just how determined we are to accept the change. Our established patterns (which grow stronger as the years pass by) are resistant to change and we are forced to “grit our teeth and tough it out.” The degree of difficulty varies with our perception of the benefits and the degree to which we have learned to accept and embrace good changes.

Some changes are not good and even harmful. Some are fatal. Accidents that mar and cripple, disease that is terminal or leaves a person weakened or chronically ill, and divorce and family breakdowns fall into this category. All of these can be agonizing and the impact can last a lifetime. For some people, death is preferable to change. Drastic measures are often taken to avoid or reject these changes.

It seems every day changes challenge us at every turn of life. When we develop the proper tools to live our lives well we have developed a good and wholesome character.

Character speaks to the qualities that make a person what he or she is. Good character is built on the development of right values and the ability to make the right choices in life. Humans grope around in the dark looking and never finding the reasons for life and its lessons. The same tragic mistakes seem to be made over and over. Mankind is always learning and yet not able to come to the knowledge of the truth. We sense that some great hand from somewhere has designed us this way, so we are forced to learn and develop or suffer for rejecting that knowledge. People who work in countries that have poverty, corruption, war, disease and human suffering know that humans need a minister as much as medicine. Humans need to know how to live and how to make the choices that lead to a good life. Someone once wrote you can give a man a fish and he will eat for today, but if you teach him how to fish, he will feed himself for a lifetime. One needs to know where and how to fish to be successful. In Hosea 4:6 we read, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Ignorance of God’s laws and His way of life is the one biggest problem mankind faces. Humans need to be taught right from wrong in God’s terms. We all have the capacity to change, but the old patterns will try to persist. We need to recognize the fact that change will be met with resistance and be prepared to meet the challenges of that inner resistance.

There is no greater change that affects a person than the change of true conversion. Most people resist the changes demanded by our Creator and Lifegiver because those changes are so profound and so strongly contrary to the habits and patterns in life, which we have learned. Conversion changes the innermost core of our being and demands all we have – including our life. In Matthew 22:37 we read Jesus commanded us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. In Matthew 10:39 we are told we are even expected to lose our lives for His sake. There is nothing to hold back. This kind of change is not for the fainthearted, and yet it is the most vital and important change we can encounter in life. It is truly amazing to observe the myriad of excuses and devices humans have developed to resist God and His commanded changes. These changes are the only answer to the most vital question that death poses: “After death, then what?” Eternity stretches on forever and it is this short span of life that God has given to help us see the need for this most drastic, most needful and most beneficial change.

In John 6:44 we read that God chooses who He will call. He does tell us He wants everyone to be saved in His overall plan. The call is to repentance of sin and the acceptance of Jesus Christ and His precious blood as a sacrifice for our sins. Then we are told to “go and sin no more.” That is the rub – go and sin no more. Break the old sinful habits of thinking and patterns of life and change everything about us to conform to the image of Christ who is the express image of the Father (Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 1:3).

In Matthew 22:14 we are told many are called, but few are chosen. It is not that God only wants a few, for truly He wants all men to be saved (I Timothy 2:4). He leaves the choice making – the acceptance of the changes He demands – in our hands. Therefore, few are chosen because few grasp the greatness of the offer from God and few have the courage and determination to accept the inevitable changes. Of course, God assists in the needed changes through His Holy Spirit and the scriptures which give us truth. His calling is strong and He adds some needed ingredient to our thoughts.

In Hebrews 8:10 God explains His laws are to be written on our hearts. Those laws define sin and guide us in how we should live so as to please Him. We know the task will not be easy and one of the greatest of God’s servants expresses his battle. Paul wrote in Romans 7:14- 25 that true conversion demands change and can be agonizing in that we seem to fail so often. It is clear no human is perfect, but God knows that and what He seeks is the person who is willing to try and change to become more perfect (Matthew 5:48). The goal is to finally become like Him and like Jesus Christ.

The path is not easy or for the faint of heart, but this change is the most beneficial of all. As we humans grasp the purpose for which we exist, we will embrace the trials and pain this change demands and move even closer to being conformed to the image of Christ and of the Father. His values will become our values and His thoughts our thoughts. We are to become One with the Father as Christ is One with the Father (John 17:21). After much turmoil and a difficult life, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes writes in chapter 12:13 that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments. Humans will have to learn through much pain and suffering the best way to live and, yes, the only way to live is God’s way. Every other way is too painful. Our problem is we find it hard to change. God knows that and yet demands it of us, because the efforts we put forth build the kind of character He is looking for.

The choice seems so very obvious; the benefits (long term) so wonderful. We start by taking the first step – making small changes as we develop the strength and faith in Christ to make the greater ones until we come to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Try it – ask God for His guidance and help as you sincerely try to change to be more like Christ – you might like it after all!

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