“In a revival of God’s work souls are born of the Spirit. They do not merely feel better; they are made better. There is a real change in their dispositions. The passionate become patient; the ambitious lowly, the proud humble and self-denying. People are converted, not simply to a belief, but to God. There is in them a great, and marked and obvious change. They become new creatures.” – B.T. Roberts (commenting on his father’s conversion)
Imagine if Jesus told the paralytic, “Don’t feel bad, there are many like and one day all things will be made right.” He might have felt better, but would he have been made better? What if Jesus told the rich young man, “You know, it’s pretty impressive that you have kept all those laws since you were a child. The only other person I know who has done that is me. I was gonna mention one more thing, but don’t worry about it. You’re doing pretty good.” He might have felt better, but would he have been made better?
I know my own hurts, habits and hangups. I often want Jesus to make me feel better, rather than make me better. When I lose my temper with my children reassure me that it was their fault, not mine. Don’t tell me I am impatient and selfish and need to learn to abide in your love. That’s too much work. (Catch the sarcasm?)
When I am willing to hurt people – friends or enemies – in order to be right reassure me that truth and exactness are the weightier matters of the law. Don’t remind me that without love I am nothing but a clanging cymbal and ask me to learn to abide in your love. That’s too much work. (In case you missed it the first time, here’s some more sarcasm.)
(Okay, no more sarcasm.) The problem with that is that I remain the same old, curmudgeon I was before I met Jesus. In which case it is hard to believe that I have truly met Jesus. As Titus said, “There is a real change in their dispositions.” No, I don’t simply want to feel better, I want to be made better. As I have been meditating and memorizing John 15 I have been reminded of God’s transformative love. The Vinedresser (what Jesus calls the Father in this passage) can make us better; really, truly better.
How about you? In your walk with God do you merely feel better or are you being made better?