I’m not a particular fan of change. I like things to be even keeled, I like to know what is coming and be prepared for it. When something unexpected happens, I get all flustered. A little over a week ago, I was coming home from a visit to my family, when I heard that 101 was closed. I was positively mad. My plans had to be changed, I had to drive through Redding. I couldn’t be mad AT anyone, but that made no difference, I was simply agitated. I always feel sorry for my family when I get this way, I am not fun to be around when things don’t go my way!
Change. Sometimes we hate it, sometimes it’s all we dream of. We hate it when we are stalled or inconvenienced, we hate the loss of something or someone we love. We dream of the perfect job, the perfect romance, of winning the lottery. Some change we get to choose, some change is foisted upon us without or even against our will. Change both motivates us, and drives us crazy.
As I was looking at the scriptures to prepare this talk for you, change is a resounding theme, and I thought on the nature of just what change IS. At first, I was thinking that change is something that happens over time, slowly, because as I look back on my life, I cannot help but see that I am not the same person I was even a few years ago, let alone decades ago. But as I think more on this, I am certain this is not the case at all. I think change happens quickly, almost in the blink of an eye. Think back to your first day of high school, leaving elementary behind. Of graduating high school, where instantly, everything was different. The day you got married, the day your first child was born. The day you lost someone you loved, the day your parent died. Suddenly, everything was different, and it would never be the same again.
I think now, that change happens very, very fast, and our lives are made of the tension of living through and trying to come to terms with the changes that have already happened. I think this is one reason we look so nostalgically towards the past, the change comes so fast, and changes so much that we cannot help but desire and miss who we were as we leave who we were behind us. There is an excitement in change, but it is also really tough to get used to.
A brief example from my life, the day my first daughter was born, my entire life was different. I was suddenly a different man, a father, even though I didn’t know it yet. I remember leaving the hospital with my daughter in the back seat, honestly confused that the hospital was going to just let me leave with this baby. It was the most terrifying drive of my whole life. It was just as terrifying to let her drive for the first time. Change is instant, it just takes us a while to emotionally catch up.
As we look through the scriptures today, we see something has happened to Peter. Now I have to be honest with you, there are two Peters, the Peter before the Pentecost, and the Peter after. These are two distinctly different people. The old Peter is a bit of a dolt, he really doesn’t get what is going on, he doesn’t speak well, and he really isn’t anything special. He can’t get anything right. Jesus talks about forgiving endlessly, and Peter is like, “You mean like 7 times?” Jesus actually tells Peter to get behind him, because he is thinking like Satan. Peter swears unending loyalty unto death, only to deny Jesus three times the same night. Or my favorite Peter quote of all, he has just seen the resurrected Christ, and the apostles ask him what they should do, and he basically says, “I dunno, let’s go fishing.” Peter and I are cut from the same cloth.
After the Holy Spirit comes upon him though, we see an entirely different man. He is thoughtful, he is a leader. He is well spoken, he is unafraid. He stands proud to proclaim the Gospel fearlessly, enduring humiliation, imprisonment and eventually death with great courage. Christ has changed him, made him a new man. He falls once and a while, still trying to live up to the change that has happened, but he always gets back up to live out his new life. So too with the men walking to Emmaus, they are downtrodden, they are beaten, they are walking AWAY from Jerusalem, they are leaving saddened and broken. Then Christ walks into their lives, and with nothing more than a few words, a sharing of God’s Word and with the breaking of the bread, they are renewed, they are made whole, and they rush back to the holy city to meet with the Church and share the good news. Their lives are transformed in an instant. Now they go forward to live out this new found life.
We are here now in the Easter season. We have re-lived together what Christ has done for us, we have lived out the manner of His death for us, remembered His pain, remembered what our sin has cost. We have remembered that sin has been broken, the world is changed, it is different than it was before. Is your life different? Are you allowing this truth to color your life? Have you a newfound desire to increase your relationship with Jesus who loves you so much as to do all this for you? Do you feel renewed and challenged to be more than you have been?
What I mean is this: When I got married, I could have pretended it didn’t happen, and continued dating people and flirting with random women. But I can promise you there is no joy in pretending I am something I am not, not for my wife, not for me. Living less than the truth only sucks the joy out of my life. I have to live out the truth, live out the change, or my life empties and gets harder and less satisfying. You are called by Christ to life in Him, you are called to holiness, even sainthood. If you are denying that call, you are lying to yourself about something more fundamental than marriage, and you will find life is simply not what you desired it to be. You don’t want to cheat on your spouse, don’t cheat on God. Allow the change of Easter to reach into your reality, to let the Holy Spirit fill your life, to hear the Word of Christ, to eat at His table with open eyes. This is no time to live in the past, this is the time to embrace the truth, that you have been changed, you have been called by the author of Love Himself. Do not live as if nothing has happened.