Change Can Be Terrifying
These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also . . . Acts 17:6
I regularly meet those who know they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. They know they’re causing themselves irreparable harm and they know they’re destroying their relationships. When I suggest radical change though, they often recoil in horror. They know things need to change, but still, they’re terrified of change. Why is that?
I know the feeling. When I was using, I hated who I was and what I was doing. If anyone would have suggested that I was an addict and needed to find recovery though, I would have lashed out at them and denied I had a problem. Why? Because I knew how miserable it was going to be to actually get sober. I knew it meant confession, treatment, and a radical disruption to my personal and professional life. Change was going to be a mountain of misery and it was simply easier to remain stuck in my addiction. At the time, recovery just cost too much. Change was terrifying.
The apostles, spreading the gospel of Christ, often ran into this same response. In today’s passage, Paul and Silas preached in Thessalonica where both Jews and Greeks came to believe in and follow Christ. The non-believing Jews though, turned on the apostles, whipping up a mob against them. They liked life the way it was and could not tolerate change. They saw Paul and Silas as revolutionaries and hated them for it. These men who have turned the world upside down . . .
The mob wasn’t wrong. The message that Paul and Silas carried is revolutionary. The gospel of Jesus is completely disruptive to our old way of life. Following Christ means radical transformation, which can be terrifying to anyone still in love with the old life.
A lot of us find ourselves stuck here. We believe in God and we know we should change, but we’re just not ready because we know what transformation will cost. We know that abandoning our way to follow Christ will turn our world upside down. Honestly, it’s just more comfortable to remain in the old life. Unfortunately, it often takes some painful disturbance to our old life to make us willing to abandon it for the new one. When we finally do though, we’ll see that it was worth it all along and we’ll wonder why we didn’t do it sooner. Change is scary, but the new life is absolutely worth the cost.