Change and Falling Short

At church this morning, the pastor preached about the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine, and he said that Jesus performs miracles when he transforms people.

Does Jesus change people?  I don’t rule it out.  Or let me say this: I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who change with the assistance of a power greater than themselves.  Is this an experience in which they are passive, or active?  Well, I can’t rule out that there are people who experience a passive transformation.  Whether that’s long-term or not, I don’t know.  Maybe it is for some people, but not for other people.

In twelve-step groups, however, transformation seems to be presented as something that occurs after hard work, even though a higher power is said to play a role.  A person takes a moral inventory, shares it with someone else, and gets feedback.  A person meets with a sponsor to get advice or simply another person’s perspective about what he or she is experiencing in life.  A person makes amends to whomever he or she has harmed.  And God puts the person in situations in which he or she can grow.  Or, at times, it is recommended that people place themselves into situations in which they can grow, such as social settings.

It takes work, not to mention bravery, for people to be so vulnerable.  Many shy away from it.  I’d prefer to do that sort of work within an accepting environment rather than a setting that puts me down, and it’s good when one can find such an accepting environment.  But change, for a lot of people, still takes work.  I wish that I could be passive and wait for God to zap me, magically transforming me into a person of character!

I have another point to make: I can easily say that God has made me loving or patient, if I were in a setting in which it’s not particularly difficult for me to be loving for patient.  But am I loving or patient in all situations?  Personally, it’s not something that I want to stress out about, for I don’t think that me beating up on myself is all that productive of an activity.  I wouldn’t even feel less-than if I did find it hard to be loving or patient in certain situations (which I do)!  But, because that’s the case, I have a hard time bragging that I have arrived, in terms of character.  I fall way short of perfection.  That’s not me patting myself on the back for my humility.  It’s the way things are.  And I should remind myself of that so that I’m not so quick to judge other people, who themselves fall short.  We’re all loved by God.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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