Bible Study: We Must be Open to Change
"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29 - New American Standard Bible - emphasis mine).
Another army story...I can't help it; I see too many examples!
I grew up like any flat-land-hillbilly-type of kid; I liked to hunt and fish. As a little country boy it must be some kind of prerequisite to like to shoot things. I filled the bill! I went from a sling-shot to a BB gun to a bow and arrow to a shotgun to a rifle (it was hard to get artillery in the country...that's why I didn't advance further). By the time I was fourteen I could shoot anything at most any reasonable distance. In the army training with several weapons is necessary; the M16 rifle, in particular, was the weapon that every soldier was required to become proficient in using. We learned quickly that firing an M16 was different than firing most other kinds of rifles. The guys who had never shot a rifle seemed to gain the skill the fastest. The soldiers that had learned to shoot before joining the army learned a bit slower. Those that refused to change their technique learned the slowest; some of these men had been great "shooters" back home, but many were closed off to change.
The verse above applies to a believer's future glory in Christ, but there is something there that is very helpful concerning Bible study. We see from this verse that God desires to conform us into the image of His Son. The word "conformed" means to be fashioned into the likeness of. Simply put, our Father wants us to be like His Son! I think that is good!
To be conformed means that we must change. That's the helpful part of this verse. God wants to change us. As we come to His word we must not only KNOW that His goal is to change us, BUT we must be open to that as well. Are you open to change? If you are the Bible will never intimidate you! If you are not every time you read it you will be upset. Many who are not open to change try to change what the Bible means and says to fit what they already believe, do, or how they want to live.
As a very young Christian I approached the Bible the same way I approached learning to throw a curve ball. I had a baseball coach that did not believe that young men should learn to throw "breaking pitches" until they had mastered the "fastball", could exercise control, and had grown a very strong arm. I wanted to learn to throw that curve ball with every thing in me. I had asked an older friend of my father's several times to teach me, because, even at his very advanced age, that man could throw a great curve. He finally relented. I was so excited that I nearly burst as we walked into our yard for my first lesson. I went into that lesson knowing four things: (1) I couldn't throw a curve; (2) he could; (3) I wanted to know; (4) he was willing to teach. I hung on that man's every word. In less than fifteen minutes I was throwing a mean curve!
What's that got to do with Bible study? Let me put it like this; I approached the Bible knowing four things: (1) I was not living to God's fullest intention for my life; (2) He knows how to fix that and can empower it; (3) I wanted to know what He had to say about the subject; (4) He was willing to teach me. Learning a curve and learning how to live in a way to please God required that I was open to learn and willing to change.
In the first illustration I wanted us to see the difficulty that comes when we are not open to change. Many times we think we've got things figured out. The Bible continually challenges me to see that I am not a finished product; that I don't have every thing figured out. The second illustration was meant to picture the proper attitude to learning and changing. The first illustration says, "I've got to learn something different!" The second illustration says, "This is how I'll approach it."
God wants me to be like His Son...and that's a good thing. Scripture tells me what that change looks like and how to get there. When I study the Bible I want to be open to change. I know I need it and I know it will be good for me. I know God's plan for me and I am ready for it. How about you?