(2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).
The skirts were short, the bellbottoms were wide, and the hair…oh the hair. My white friends all had long straight hair parted down the middle like the Red Sea – both the boys and the girls. My African American friends had big afros – really big. (Now don’t anybody send me an email saying I’ve offended you. You know seventy’s hair was a sight to behold. Come on. Admit it.)
But what interested me the most were all the farewell notes written throughout the pages by friends, and some folks I barely even knew. Of course people tried to write nice things about each other. “You are so sweet.” “You are nice.” “You had cool clothes.” “You’ll go far in life,” whatever that meant. Others wrote about favorite memories shared. “I remember when….” “I’ll never forget when…” What’s funny is I can’t remember half of what the “I’ll never forget” comments were talking about.
In all the scribbled farewells and best wishes, one line stuck out among all the rest. “Don’t ever change.” It was repeated time and time again. I wonder how many times I wrote that same line in someone else’s yearbook.
Oh my mercy. I can’t imagine what I’d be like if I had followed that astute wisdom from my fellow classmates. “Don’t ever change.” It’s frightening!
I can almost hear Satan giving a big Gryphon cheer. “That’s right girl! Don’t ever change! Stay the same ole’ insecure girl you’ve always been! Keep feeling like you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough and not pretty enough! Don’t ever change! Don’t grow in your relationship with Jesus. You know everything you need to know right now. You’ve got your ticket to heaven. That’s enough. You don’t need to learn anymore of that Bible stuff. Don’t ever change. You’re fine just the way you are!”
Well praise God I didn’t follow the advice written in my High School yearbook. I did change…a lot. And I’ve got more changing to do…a lot.
All through the New Testament, Paul wrote letters to Christians encouraging them not to stay the way they were, but to change. Here’s just one example in his letter he wrote to the Ephesians church:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen… Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I think if Paul had been a fellow Gryphon, and written in my High School yearbook, he would have penned something like the following: “Please, Sharon, whatever you do, change! Don’t stay the same as you are today. Continue to grow and mature in your faith. Make it your goal to become more and more like Jesus with each passing day. And Sharon, please do something about that hair.”
Dear Lord, Thank you for accepting me just the way I am, but loving me too much to let me stay that way. I don’t want to stay the same, but to grow more and more into a reflection of your glory with each passing day. Change me, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Paul wrote several similar passages to the one in Ephesians above. Pick one of the following and read today.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
What is one thing about your character or lifestyle that God has changed over the past year. Leave a comment below and share your answer.
If you would like to learn more about how to experience real and lasting change – change from the inside out, then you’ll want to read my book, Discover the beauty that comes only through a personal, ongoing, vibrant relationship with Jesus.