If there was one paragraph I would want all evangelical Christians to read, it would be this one:
“A lot of times we try to get people to believe who are not willing yet. This is something the individual has to do on his own; he has to go through his own suffering to become willing to change.”
Christianity is not just a set of beliefs, it is a way of life. It is a complete re-orientation of your universe. I did not understand that as a child in a Christian home, and I took Christianity for granted most of my adult life. I bought into the falsehood that Jesus taught a belief system, a religion, but that’s not right. Jesus did not teach a belief system, He taught a way of life. That way of life ends up shaping our belief systems.
I approached recovery incorrectly as well. When I came into the program I was expecting a re-orientation of my thinking. Well, recovery changed my beliefs, but only indirectly, and those changed beliefs are not responsible for my sobriety or spiritual growth. My beliefs changed because my way of life changed, and my way of life changed only because I reached a point in my life when I had suffered so greatly, for so long, that I was desperate for relief. With that desperation came the willingness to change.
Trying to change one’s behavior without a willingness to change as a person is like making a New Year’s resolution. You recognize you need to quit smoking, so you make a resolution to do just that. But inside you are the same old person, and if you were honest with yourself you would admit that you are not willing to change. Guess what? New Year’s resolutions rarely last because of this fundamental flaw.
On the flip side, trying to change your beliefs without changing yourself just turns you into a hypocrite. Don’t believe me? Take a look around any church; you will see a room full of people who profess one belief system but behave in an entirely different way. They tried to change their beliefs before (or without) changing themselves. I suspect the primary reason for this unfortunate fact is that they never truly came face-to-face with their own sin; they have not yet suffered enough. In their denial they still believe they can change on their own.
Are you trying to change yourself, or just your beliefs?