Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21
My wife loves those home renovation shows where they take an old, dilapidated house and, in the span of 60 minutes, transform it into something new and amazing. I see the appeal, but those shows are dangerous. My wife doesn’t need any more ideas. Over the years, we’ve undertaken numerous remodeling projects, most of which have involved a significant amount of demolition on my part. Honestly though, I don’t have the vision. Years ago, when she wanted to tear out the front steps of our old house – to put in a new, big porch – I objected. We already had steps that worked. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong with them. No, they weren’t porch-like and no, they didn’t look particularly nice, but they worked, and we already had them. They required zero effort or change. They were meh, but I was satisfied.
I think a lot of us are here with our faith. I write mostly about addiction and, in my own battle with drugs, it wasn’t difficult for me to grasp that I needed radical transformation. I struggled to implement authentic change, but I understood that the old life absolutely needed to go if I ever wanted to find the new one.
Today though, I’m writing to those of us who are reasonably content with the old front steps. We simply don’t see the need for drastic change. Yes, we believe in God, yet we’ve not ever really allowed him to touch our lives in a way that reflects radical transformation. Honestly, we don’t see that we need it. We’re not using drugs. We’re not having an affair. We don’t say the f-word, and we go to church on Sunday. What more is there?
This is a problem. Jesus described the Christians life as daily dying to the old life so that we may find the new one. We’ve all got something that distracts us from obeying God and loving others. Perhaps the deadliest struggles are the ones that just aren’t that bad. If we never see the need for radical change, then we’re not likely to embrace a life of dying to self – which means, that while we may believe Christ exists, we may never get around to actually following him.
Today’s passage teaches that if we want the word of God to take root in our lives, growing into authentic faith, then we must continually abandon the old life. If we’re happy with the old steps, we may keep them. But then, we’ll never know the glory of the new life for which we were created.
It took work to get there, but in the end of course, I loved our new front porch.