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. In Romans, for example, Paul tells us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (NRSV 13:14). And stepping back from behaviors that have been hurting us does offer some outward, visible change. But this could lead to some false expectations, 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 won’t always 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. In I Corinthians Paul describes more clearly what we must “put on”: “For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (NRSV 15: 53-54). Christ didn’t come to offer us a special kind of goodness that could be pasted over top of our natural tendencies. … When we open our hearts to Christ, when we allow the Lord to live and work in us, we are filled to overflowing with an individuality that is as comfortingly “us” as the old one was—but with much more kindness and grace. 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).
(from Turning Aside to See, chapter 6)
Leave a Reply