PUT A SILK ON A GOAT AND IT IS STILL A GOAT. But Christian practice might at times appear to contradict this Irish proverb. Churchgoers could quite easily get the impression that the change Christ demands is just an outward one—a process of giving up bad habits and adopting good ones. As C. S. Lewis wrote: “When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would be natural if things went fairly smoothly. (Mere Christianity 159-160)
But our lives don’t go “fairly smoothly,” and so we’re disappointed. That’s okay. It is then that we learn that Christ was talking about something more than outward appearance and good behavior. The Lord didn’t come to offer us a special kind of goodness that could be pasted over top of our natural tendencies and selfishness. Christ lights up the other part of us, an imperishable life already operating within us that is entirely separate from the goat. As Lewis wrote, “… the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us” (159).