The more things change the more they remain the same. God cannot change and apparently neither does mankind. From the instant sin entered the Garden men have been fickle, fearful, self-indulgent, and dishonest. We often know when we lie to others but seldom recognize the myriad of instances when we lie to ourselves. Humans have the amazing ability to mix horror with humor and evil with aspiration. People are normally far more concerned over little white lies than great big ones.
Jesus served the Passover meal to His disciples after three dusty, exhausting, miraculous years of ministry. In the upper room He offered His body and blood to twelve men relatively unchanged by the experience. Peter boasted that he would die with Jesus if need be, yet only a few hours later denied Him three times.
Judas Iscariot was still present when Jesus said, “But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.” – Luke 22:21, 23
Imagine how shocked the disciples must have been. One of us will betray our Lord? Who could it be? Imagine the horror of reclining at the table with Jesus wondering if the betrayer was you. It must have seemed impossible that Jesus the Messiah would be arrested and crucified. What did the disciples feel? Were they sad? Confused? Frightened? In denial? Did they press Jesus for some good news, some alternative? Was there any way to save this man they loved?
Who was the Betrayer? What would happen to the remaining eleven? Did the disciples worry, wring their hands, or seek escape? No. They behaved as normal human beings. They started wondering which of them was most famous. Honestly, don’t you find that the least little bit shocking? I will be guilty of many things during my lifetime, but I pray I will never be guilty of betrayal.
In one breath the disciples agonized over which of them would betray the Son of God. And in the next the darkness born into men in Genesis 3 was revealed. The disciples exchanged their concern about being a Betrayer to disputing which was the greatest Superstar at the blinding speed of human nature.
… to Superstar
Peter was brash, egotistical, and habitually acted before thinking. The Peter who received the Passover meal from the very hand of Christ was yet unchanged. The Peter whom Jesus redeemed on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in John 21 was unchanged. Three times Peter denied Christ and three times he affirmed his love by promising to “Feed My lambs, take care of My lambs, and to feed My sheep.”
The next recorded words the resurrected Christ had for Peter foreshadowed his coming martyrdom. Without missing a beat Peter looked at John and asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
A yet unchanged Peter skips from news of impending martyrdom to pointing a finger at John as naturally as breathing. Peter thought if there was bad news for him there was probably equally bad news for John and he wanted to know what it was. It was a transformed Peter who spoke at Pentecost and continued to serve Christ until the day he willingly submitted to execution.
The Holy Spirit changes people; it is the only thing in heaven or on earth with the power.
Cultural and Social Change
Two millennia have passed since the disciples spent one last morning by the sea with Christ. People still haven’t changed. In wisdom born of self-importance many believe that gender is fluid and that every law should be flexible. Perhaps those who argue that abortion is health care sincerely believe it. Some folks may believe that children belong to a village and not the family. Many people honestly (or hopefully) believe that many roads lead to heaven. Perhaps Peter believed he would die for Christ instead of deny Him.
What quirk of human nature throws God Himself off center-stage in our personal drama so we can occupy that place of honor ourselves? In the space of a heartbeat Peter’s angst over betrayal morphed into calculations of personal fame.
Some people believe that the climate is far more influenced by the acts of men than God. People believe they descended from the random interaction between primordial soup and rocks. People believe they are basically good regardless of the number of criminal convictions on their rap sheet. People believe most of the lies they tell themselves. Normal people reject the differences between male and female. Natural people reject the difference between God and Satan. Normal people idolize whatever validates them as “good.” Natural people have yet to be transformed.
Until the Holy Spirit lit on the Apostle Peter he was just a natural guy. A normal fellow. The natural Peter denied Christ three times. The transformed Peter died for Him.
New Creations in Christ are different than humans operating on what comes naturally. Normal people are the same as Adam, Peter, and Judas unless transformed by relationship with Jesus Christ through spiritual rebirth. New Creations in Christ reflect the Light of Truth. Not my truth or your truth, but THE truth. Only humans, formed in the image of God, have a mind capable of introducing fantasy into reality. Humans are the only animal with the capacity to consider God’s plan and reject it in favor of one of their own.
“Deviant” and “Normal” are not Synonymous
Synonyms are words that mean the same thing. The word deviant means deviating or departing from the norm. Until recent years deviant and normal were opposites that defined the other. In some contexts today they mean the same thing. It is politically incorrect to call someone’s behavior, predilection, or appearance “deviant” as in departing from the norm. Normal is often construed as anything a “normal” person does or thinks. In that sense it isn’t possible to deviate since normal is now all inclusive. But “normal” won’t get you into heaven.
Whatever humans can conceive is now considered normal. There are still a few exceptions, but even those will soon give way as the new normality of deviance relegates former standards and definitions to the dustbin of archaic concepts. The natural human spirit is capable of endless variation. Standards and definitions made peaceful society possible. Rejecting standards and definitions doesn’t make the world a more lovely and tolerant place; it creates chaotic anarchy.
How did we come to this place in where a benign discussion of the disciple’s behavior at the Last Supper becomes what some may consider a rant about deviance? Some people live in fantasy and are genuinely upset when they learn others don’t want to live there with them. Today that’s considered intolerant and unkind. For this reason God is also considered intolerant and therefore unkind.
New Creations in Christ recognize that God does not change. His Word does not change. It cannot be reinterpreted or rewritten to promote the latest variation on what human nature thinks is right or wrong; what is real or imaginary.
Let me qualify that – God’s Word can and is being reinterpreted and rewritten by men for men. But no matter how sincerely or scholarly the attempt, God will not change. Men will not change until Jesus Christ lives within them.
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. – Numbers 23:19
“I the Lord do not change.” – Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8
Choose Today. Eternity is a long time.
How concerned are you with being a Betrayer or a Superstar? Human nature runs easily to one, the other, or both. Human nature is fickle and dishonest. Human nature will betray a friend to bring Fame and Fortune one step closer. Human nature now rejects the gender-binary and all who believe it exists. Human nature will break fellowship with those whose only crime is intolerance of something that deviated from the norm since the dawn of human history.
Your eternity depends on whether you listen to the spirit of human nature or the Spirit of God. Human nature condemns. Jesus Christ saves. Choose today. Jesus paid the price for the sin nature of humans. Evidence that your bill was paid in full comes by confessing the right of Christ to establish standards and condemn all who choose what comes naturally over Him.
Will you serve the gods in the land in which you live or the Lord God who created it from nothing? Have you been transformed?
Suggested study, “Fifteen Minutes into Eternity“