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Pointers along the way #261

Looking for a quick fix
- Jacob Ninan

We see people all around who are looking for ways to fix their problems, whether they have to do with finances, marriage, kids, job or anything. But most of them are looking for some quick fix by which their problem situation will change for the better. This is natural, and this is usually the first approach we try. And there are many out there who seem to offer such fixes for a price. Preachers talking about the financial crisis have one quick remedy--give your seed money and see how God multiplies it! How many preachers have you heard telling the audience that they would need to tighten their belts, change their spending habits, downsize their pleasure targets, plan for saving schemes, etc.?

When couples come for marriage counselling they expect the counsellor to give a recipe that will--presto!--send them back beaming with smiles. They don't expect to be asked to make changes in their attitudes and behaviour. When they hear about change, they want the counsellor to change their spouse!

Why do we take this approach? It is because 1) it is very painful to acknowledge that we are in the current mess because we have done things wrong, 2) it is difficult to make changes to the patterns that we have developed over the years. But like a scientist said, we can't repeat an experiment in exactly the same way as we have done before and expect different results! We have to change our attitudes and walk in paths we have not travelled before, if we want better lives in the future.

Jesus said that if we wanted to learn from Him and become like Him--to become His disciple--we need to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him (Lk.9:23;14:27). Our cross--contrary to common understanding--is not this person who troubles us or the unbearable situation, but an attitude in which we are willing to die to our own likes, preferences, choices, etc., in order to do the will of God which is far better. When we take up this cross and deny ourselves, we become Jesus' disciples and start learning from Him and doing His will. But if we are waiting for the other person or our situation to change, we will be waiting and waiting as things get worse and worse!

Who has been affected by sin? Not just all those gross and crude sinners out there, but all of us. We are all blind to our own faults even though quick to notice those of others. But at least when we reap the unpleasant fruits of what we have sown in the past (Ga.6:7), shouldn't we wake up and admit that there must be things we have done wrong? Then we can see what we can do about them now.

There are many things we can change and should change. But then there are also things in the past that cannot be undone. What God expects us to do then is to at least acknowledge that we are only reaping what we have sown (Je.3:13). Isn't this what the repentant criminal on the cross did (Lk.23:40,41)? If we take that position, God will also give us grace that can change the situation.