What is change?
According to wordnet.princeton.edu change is:
Any variation or alteration; a passing from one state or form to another; as, a change of countenance; a change of habits or principles.
A succession or substitution of one thing in the place of another; a difference; novelty; variety; as, a change of seasons.
A passing from one phase to another; as, a change of the moon.
Alteration in the order of a series; permutation.
Change and Life
Different accounts, scientific and faith-based, of how life in this planet originated and perpetuates itself identify change as a key element for the existence of life.
The Bible narrates in the book of Genesis how God formed the Earth and creation by gradually changing the “formless and empty darkness” which was there in the beginning into a place where light, sky, water, vegetation, animals and humans exist. (Genesis 1). God changed the conditions of the void by creating living and inanimate matter; we see a change taking place.
Science also explains how in an embryo is created through the differentiation and specialization of different cells which come from the union of two gametes. One cell multiplies and changes into millions of different kinds of cells to create a living organism; a zygote becomes an embryo, which turns into a fetus and later a baby; we see a change taking place.
Regardless of the lens we choose to look from…we can agree that change is a part of life, change results from the temporary nature of our earthly existence, change happens to everyone and everything in this planet…change is a precondition for life.
Two Kinds of Change
In our lives, we experience changes without even realizing it; seasons change, conditions change, we grow older, we go from one stage of our life to the next, we sometimes experience loss or unexpected out-of-the-ordinary situations. In order to study the phenomenon of change, scholars have categorized change in two kinds; cyclical change and structural change.
Cyclical change, as described by its name, is a change that occurs on a regular interval…for example seasons, fashion trends or business cycles…this kind of change is not permanent and can be reversed.
Structural change is a change that is unusual such as a revolution in a country, loss or death…this kind of change is permanent and cannot be reversed.
Change and T.V.
One of the biggest money-makers in the t.v. industry are the shows that capitalize on documenting change, such as makeover and improvement shows…as an avid t.v. viewer, please allow me to name my top 5 shows dealing with change:
5. Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style; it is a Bravo produced show where fashion-impaired ladies get the tools to reinvent their wardrobes from Tim Gunn.
4. Extreme Makeover; it is a total revamp of a person’s appearance which includes months of training, plastic surgery, wardrobe reinvention plus hair and makeup.
3. Extreme Makeover Home Edition; this show deals with the renovation of the house of a deserving family…it is a joint effort of the t.v. show and the friends of the family.
2. What not to Wear; people are recommended by their family and friends for this show…another show which deals with the fashion-impaired.
1. Pimp my Ride; a show dealing with car-makeovers.
So Please MTV, Pimp my Ride!
I especially like the format of “Pimp my Ride”…the show begins by introducing us to a person who has a car in dire need of repair…usually the car is falling apart and barely driving. After detailing all the malfunctions and glitches of the car the owner issues a plea to MTV asking for help, the first scene of the show always ends with the phrase “so please MTV pimp my ride”…the next scene shows the host Xzibit coming to the person’s house first to inspect the car and to announce that a change is coming; MTV has heard the plea and is going to Pimp the Ride.
It is so funny and endearing to see the people’s reaction when they open the door and see Xzibit standing in front of them…they are ecstatic; some will scream others will jump and scream, and others will scream, jump and embrace Xzibit like he was a long-lost brother. These people understand the implications of Xzibit’s presence at their front door; he’s coming to bring about a much needed change…He’s coming to get the defective automobile, and he’s going to take that car to get work done in one of the best garages in California…the participants in the show are aware that the next time they see their car, it is no longer going to be defective; not only will it be repaired but also immensely improved a.k.a. pimped. This change brings joy, anticipation and excitement to people’s lives…and I like watching all these emotions unfold.
Just like the introduction of the show follows the same format over and over, the conclusion of the show also follows one recurring format; once the car is in a new and improved, the owner is invited to the garage to witness the “great reveal”. The mechanics explain step-by-step the repairs, improvements and changes made to the car and the owner of the car responds in amazement and gratitude. The host of the show, Xzibit presents the person with his car keys and before letting him/her drive away he tells them; “You’ve officially been pimp’d”.
Jesus the Great Mechanic
Recently we celebrated Easter…a time when we remember Jesus’ life here on earth, his death on the cross, and his resurrection after three days. However, many times we overlook the fact that Easter is also celebration of change; through his sacrifice, Jesus has dramatically changed the course of history and the potential outcome of our lives. In the show “Pimp my Ride” the cars are changed at two levels; first the mechanics fix those things which are malfunctioning or have deteriorated over time, and second the mechanics improve the car by adding equipment that the car did not have even when it was new from the dealer; such as extra-powerful stereo or GPS navigation system, which enhance the car’s condition beyond the owner’s expectations.
Similarly, Jesus brings change to our life at two levels; first he repairs the damage caused by sin and the works of the enemy our life, the Bible says in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”, and John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Second, Jesus improves our life through giving us the opportunity to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit; our God-given GPS navigation system, and by opening the way to the throne of the father. Paul says in Ephesians 3:13-21 that we can know the depths of God’s love and be strengthened in our inner man through his Spirit and that God is “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”…in other words; the changes that Jesus brings to our lives can exceed our expectations.
Jesus at the Door
As I mentioned before, one of the most memorable instances in the show “Pimp my Ride” are the scenes where Xzibit knocks at people’s door in order to bring about change…similarly in Revelation the Bible contains a passage where Jesus is pictured standing at the door and knocking…
Revelations 3: 14-21
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler
of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I
wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—
neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth…So be
earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone
hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he
When I read this passage, I cannot help but contrast the enthusiasm of the people portrayed in the t.v. show when Xzibit is at their door and the indifference of the church of Laodicea when Jesus was at their door… the bible describes the church’s reaction to Jesus as “lukewarm”, in other words apathetic, unexcited or even neutral…and this has not changed very much with time. Christians are still very passive, indifferent or neutral when it comes to Jesus’ presence in their lives…I sometimes get more excited watching a car get fixed than reading God’s promises in the bible…and I know I am not the only one.
How can people (including myself) be so excited for a temporary change such as their car getting fixed and ignore the person who wants to bring about changes that benefit their entire lives not only on this earth but also for eternity? Unlike the t.v. shows such as “Pimp my Ride”, the changes that Jesus brings to people’s lives are permanent, structural, eternal. A car lasts 20 years…eternity lasts forever.
How can we respond adequately to the changes that Jesus wants to bring to our life? John the Baptist once instructed people on how to respond to Jesus’ gift of salvation…he said in Luke 3:8 “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”. Repentance is a word which implies change…it is actually a complete 180 degrees change in direction; it is a U-turn. Jesus himself tells the church in Laodicea to repent…to be earnest. Repentance includes a heartfelt desire to embrace the changes that Jesus wants to bring about in our lives…it is the equivalent of making a U-turn when we are driving in the wrong direction, or giving Xzibit the keys to a car which desperately needs repair.
Concluding Thoughts: The 10-Cow Makeover
Readers Digest once published a powerful story which narrates the story of a widower who lived with his two daughters in a small village in Asia a long time ago. One of the daughters was beautiful; her charisma and grace was known in the entire village and the neighboring areas… The other daughter, although noble-hearted, lacked allure and charm. The two young women were ready to be given in marriage, and as it was the custom in those days, the father was expecting suitors to show up and offer cattle in exchange for a wife.
One morning, word came to the old man that a wealthy dignitary was coming to the village to find his future wife. The wealthy man had been on a long quest to find a suitable woman to share his life, and had travelled near and far in his mission. The old man thought to himself; “surely when he sees my daughter, this man rich in possessions but poor in love will forget all his previous distress and forfeit his travels; he will settle with her and ask for her hand in marriage”, he rushed to his house and prepared for the event.
As the dignitary entered the old man’s house; his face light up, his eyes grew teary and his mouth uttered the following words; “Good man, at the sight of your daughter, I who am rich in possessions but poor in love, have forgotten all my distress and travels, I am in love with your daughter and wish to settle with her and ask for her hand in marriage, allow me to offer 10 cows as exchange” The old man who was prepared answered without hesitations, “Dear sir as a father, I am prepared to give you her hand in marriage.” The price of 10 cows was the highest price anyone had ever paid for a wife, but the old man was not surprised, since his daughter’s beauty was legendary.
The old man was smiling, satisfied that all his predictions had come to pass, when something happened that took not only him, but the entire village by surprise; the dignitary approached the two daughters who were standing side by side, and turned to the other daughter, the one who was noble-hearted and asked her “would you be my wife?” Without any hesitation, the young woman took his hand, looked at his family for one last time, and left with the distinguished man to become his wife.
Time went by, and word came to the old man, that his daughter and son-in-law were coming to the village in the customary visit that daughters pay their fathers. In villages a family-visit, concerns the entire town, and so all the people had gathered outside the old man’s house, to see the daughter arrive with the fool who paid 10 cows for a noble-hearted but unattractive wife. The dignitary appeared first, illustrious and poised as usual and stretched his hand to his wife to lovingly usher her into her father’s house.
The sight that caught people’s eyes was not that of an unattractive, noble-hearted woman, but that of an exquisite creature, who stood dignified, lovely and self-assured by her husband’s side. Astonishment and admiration filled people’s minds. The old man in his amazement couldn’t contain himself; he asked his daughter the reason for her change. The woman looked at his father and at everybody else, set her gaze on her husband and answered; “I realized the price he paid.”
I like this story because it is a makeover story, and it also illustrates what repentance should look like. Jesus paid a price for each and every one of us, so that our lives could be changed…however we need to respond and change our ways…and we will be restored, made-over, or as put in my favorite lingo; we will officially be “pimp’d”.
“”If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me” (Jeremiah 15:19)
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2)
“Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.”
It is time for a change….