I know the questions sounds cynical, pessimistic even. But I don’t mean it that way.
When I say change, I don’t mean from non-functioning to functioning members of society; I don’t mean from non-productive to productive; or unreasonable to reasonable. I mean can they change from the core.
As Tim Keller might say, not just a change from immoral to moral, but something different altogether. Perhaps, transformed is the better word.
And what does it mean for us to be changed, if once that change occurs, we remain static from there? It seems the prospect for second naivete isn’t popular or pondered very much in the circles I run into (as opposed to ‘in’). Here’s the thing, I know a lot of good people, and they’re good because they know right from wrong. And they don’t do wrong, which by and large, makes them good people.
And when we commonly say people are changed, have a religious experience, we’re still talking about that type of goodness, a goodness that indicates they are not criminals or they don’t think bad thoughts, they don’t listen to the wrong kind of music, and are careful to associate with the right kind of people. And I understand, that’s fine, that’s dandy, but is that really a transformed life?
Doe not do anything bad or criminal make one good? Does it really indicate change? So an addict breaks the habit, has he changed directions or just run out of gas?
Even if that addict reads the Bible everyday, cleans up, and goes to church – is that a transformed life?
I was wondering about this question when I read recently that Jesus healed ten lepers and only one of them came back to thank him. One out of ten. All of them were healed, and only one of them actually felt like being cured of leprosy was worth chasing the healer down. One. And here’s the other kicker for me, Jesus sends him away with a simple blessing, “Your faith has made you well.”
He didn’t say, “Come, follow me.” or “Go get the other nine.” Nor did Jesus say, “What a terrible ROI, AGH!” or “Find your friends, their leprosy is back.” And I love how Jesus didn’t say any of those things. It fills me with wonder that he simply sends him on his way and goes right into how people will not be ready for the kingdom of God when it comes.
What is change? How small, how tiny is it that you and I could be healed or broken or broken into and still walk away ourselves cured, but untouched on the inside? Do we really change?