The Shawarma of Behavioral Repair and Life-Change
Is Change of Behavior Really the Issue?
A day before writing this, bestfriend Jem and I were on a hot-fudge talk regarding life and love-life – over Shawarma and Mr. Chips at Robinson’s, when a familiar fellow wearing his familiar over-sized shirt, classy bling and sparkly 50-Cent Cap dropped by to say hello. Pseudonym him Engelberto Richard Tee. Alright, this is lame. Call him Mel. And he’s always the typical ‘gangsta’ from the so-called most notorious part of the city. Mel was a friend of ours. He sat with us and swapped hi-hellos and a couple of his week’s tall-tale. Soon afterwards, Mel became silent. His next words were unforgettable: “Why is it so hard to change?” We were caught by surprise. I glanced a bit at Jem and smirked a little. It was a good question. But every question should be answered correctly – hitting deep down to the very root of it all. Like the Shawarma, it is useless if we eat the palatable wraps all alone. There’s meat inside of this surface question. Is change really the main issue?
Can we repair the behavior without hitting bulls-eye the center of it all?
Al Mohler writes of an article regarding the current issue in the presidential circle – a political figure was found running a clinic where the gays and lesbians are being ‘modified back’ to being straight, or the changing of sex-change. This was called the ‘Reparative Therapy’ or the sexual orientation conversion therapy. The goal of which is to change the orientation of homosexuals back to being heterosexuals. The problem arising here is the argument from the other side of the party – American Psychological Association and the rest of the teams on the same league argues that there’s nothing wrong with being a homosexual; no need for change. However, both teams have defects running deep down on the very root of the argument, Mohler reacts. We are quite focusing, he postulates, on the wrong side of the battlefield. The problem is not the change or the repair in behavior. Homosexuality is sin. And behavioral therapy is not the solution.
Jem and I looked at our friend Mel and saw the same issue at hand while we were there at the public mall that time. Praise God for the wisdom He lent us. We took hold of a plastic wrapper before us and asked Mel: “Mel, can you please tell that plastic to do something good for you?” Mel stared blankly at me. “Tell it to be honest, or tell it not to cheat anymore.” Mel looked at the plastic in front of us. “Tell that plastic to change.” No. Nothing will happen. Why? It’s simple. The plastic was a non-living thing. Duh.
I don’t know with us but the Bible was quite clear: without Christ, we are dead in spirit. We shared the gospel to the responsive Mel that night and praised God greatly for it was all His. We are non-living things who can do nothing but stick to our very patents: sin and embody death. No matter how much we change, it will still be the type of change that is merely external and temporal. It’s merely making a bad man look nice, smell nice, feel nice. Therapies make bad men nice. Jesus Christ makes dead people live.
C.S Lewis was quite right when he penned these words: “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.” Imagine yourself sinking inside the ship Titanic. No matter how good you are in arranging the chairs and tables on the deck, no matter how nice you are to people there, no matter how you change your behavior there, you will still sink together with the ship. The only thing we can do there is the most fundamental of all – cry out for a Savior. “Behavior (good or bad),” says Tullian Tchividjian, “is a second thing”. Changing the behavior without Christ will not bring us anywhere close to our goal. The ship will still sink.
First things first. Life-change happens only when there is life. Life begins in the circle of Jesus.
The very thing so hard to address here is the fact that we are so engrossed with “change” without going to the root of “why” we need to change. Do we change because it is the need of the society? Do we change because it is our moral duty to be right with our laws? Do we change to repair ourselves? All these are merely pointers to the duty of change. If we change our behaviors merely because we were told to do so whether by our peers or our conscience but not because of the very fact that we are alive so we can now change to become more like the Christ that saved us is an empty claim. “To address behavior without addressing death is to perpetuate death…” says Tullian Tchividjian. “Many of us are guilty of making this same mistake. We tend to think of the gospel as God’s program to make bad people good, not dead people alive. The fact is, Jesus came first to effect a mortal resurrection, not a moral reformation – as his own death and resurrection demonstrate.”
Or we can look again closely to the Apostle Paul addressing the issue of death through sin (1Cor. 15:22) –” For as in Adam all die…”
Can the dead change?
Well, too good that the apostle added the solution: that we were not merely to change in our behaviors, but to live.
“So also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Circa [Blog] Aug. 2011