Recently, my brother and I watched Disney’s latest film, Frozen. We both enjoyed the laughs, the story, the characters, and even most of the musical numbers. But there was one line given in passing by an unnamed character that stuck in my head. “No one ever really changes.” It caught my attention because it seemed at odds with the message emphasized in every children’s movie I could remember; that some people do change. It left me asking, as a Christian, what did I believe about personal change?
First of all, I find it very important to start with Scripture before opinion. This said, I find that scripture is very clear about people changing. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not only can people change, but He desires us to change (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and offers us warning of what lies ahead if we refuse to turn away from sin (Proverbs 29:1, 28:13).
We can observe for ourselves that we are continually shaped by our choices and experiences. We are in many ways unrecognizable from who we were before being saved. And our thoughts and actions continue habituating us to either obey or disobey His will. We know we are to do everything to the glory of God and all that is not done in faith is sin (1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 14:23). And so learning the value in serving God through trial and triumph is part of the process of our sanctification; of becoming ever-better versions of ourselves.
As part of the church – the bride of Christ – our pursuit of improvement (sanctification) stems from a righteous conviction. Our salvation is different; it is literally becoming a new person – a change of identity through rebirth in the Spirit via the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice and the grace given us therewith. Believing salvation can be attained through any amount of self-improvement instead of this rebirth is simply a misguided and dead-end approach to salvation.
Not unlike the hero(ine)s in Disney’s Frozen, our characters develop before the eyes of many as we face conflict. As you look back at you turning points and how you’ve both changed and stood firm, consider whether what you see is glorifying to God. Ask yourself if your reason for doing these things was for His glory, and if that was the only reason. By this you may know that you are changed and are yet becoming who you want to be.