Are you the same person?
Grab a pad of paper and pen so that you can write things down, or get out an electronic device so that you can type out your responses instead.
We’re going to take some time to compare and contrast our past selves to who we are now. In order to do this, pick an age depending on one of the following time periods: 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 15 years ago or 10 years ago.
After picking an age, ask yourself what you were like at that age. How did you approach life? What were your friendships or relationships like? Were you a good communicator? To what extent were you vulnerable with others? Now, describe your goals. Did you accomplish them?
Now, describe your spiritual beliefs. What did you believe about God, spiritual growth, salvation, church, Christian hope, etc.? Be specific. Describe your spiritual habits. What typical habits did you have on a daily or weekly basis that supported your faith in Jesus or that you might see as an expression of your faith in Jesus?
Describe your involvement in your local church or perhaps the people you invested your time in. What kinds of groups, activities or ministries were you involved in or leading? Again, be specific.
When you think back at that time in life, what is different when compared to who you are today? Describe how you have changed or grown as a person? As a Christian? Have your relationships or your ability to communicate with others improved in any way? Consider changes in your spiritual beliefs and habits? Do you have some spiritual beliefs today that you didn’t have in that previous period of your life (even nuanced changes in your beliefs)? Be specific. Has your understanding of Jesus, church history or your knowledge of the Bible expanded or deepened? Perhaps diminished or worsened? Or maybe just changed? Again be as specific as you can.
Now, consider trying this thought experiment with a different age, perhaps an age in-between the previous age you chose and today. Notice the progression of change overtime from first age to the second age to today.
After doing this thought experiment, you have likely written down some answers that make it abundantly clear that you have changed. Of course, it’s likely that some things about you in the past are still the same now in the present. Perhaps aspects of your personality and temperament or even some of your values and beliefs are the same or similar. On the other hand, you may have picked up on some things that are different. Some may be slightly different and some may be very different.
So you’ve changed
The point of this thought experiment should be evident: you have changed and change is part of everyone’s life, including yours! Those changes may even include matters of faith (who we believe in), our theology (what we believe about who we believe in) and our theopraxy (how we choose to live out and practice our faith and theology). The choice we have is whether we want to resist change at all cost when presented with it or engage with change.
There’s a chance that some of you reading might still be asking, “Peter, I totally understand that life involves change, in fact sometimes numerous changes. I just don’t think truth changes. Are you telling me that truth changes?”
It’s not so much that truth changes as it is that our understanding and interpretation of truth changes. Perhaps the angle or place in life that you’re currently sitting or living in (metaphorically and/or literally) has changed as well. So no, I am not suggesting truth changes.
Paintings and History books
Have you ever looked at a painting from a distance and thought you “saw” or “understood” what was going on. But as you got closer to the painting, or perhaps looked at the painting from a different side of the room, you noticed something you hadn’t before. The painting didn’t change, but your perspective changed and your interpretation with it.
The same is true for understanding various elements within the Christian faith. Maybe you’ve been understanding certain Bible passages to mean one thing for many years, but then one day you do a little digging into some of the historical context. You pick up a Bible commentary, theology book or history book that sheds some light on that passage, and suddenly your perception and interpretation of that passage has changed. Your understanding changed as you looked a bit closer at the details.
Don’t you think it’s time to look a bit closer?
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