Words not spoken as part of a wedding vow. Nor were they token phrases spoken lightly. These were words uttered by a mature colleague at a farewell for a young musician who has been on the church staff for a mere two years. His musical talent is exceptional. His ability to lead others into worship unquestioned. For a variety of reasons, this young man is moving on to new endeavors and at his farewell reception the usual…and this UNusual…tribute was offered.
“I’m changed because of you???” A man in his sixties said this about a youth in his twenties? A man whose musical resumé is filled with hundreds of original compositions said this about a colleague, in many respects, just beginning?
It’s one thing to say that a person has influenced your life. Or that lessons have been learned from another’s teaching. Or that the way someone has walked with Christ has been a model to emulate. But to have been changed because of another person?
While thinking about these words and doing a bit of non-scholarly research, I came upon an article by Robert S. Siegler: How Does Change Occur: A Microgenetic Study of Number Conservation. Muddling through only the first four sentences proved that this had little to do with the change I was thinking about. Then I found these Yahoo! answers: Change happens because the situation calls for it… Change happens because of a need… Change occurs because it must…
Upon “googling” the question “How do people cause change?” the first ten answers discussed global warming and the eleventh addressed Causes and Effects of Stress! Not exactly what I was looking for.
While I can’t find scholarly research to prove my point (though biblical examples abound), I believe that one life is changed by another as the Christ who lives within is seen and then imitated by another. When we allow Christ to have full—and ever fuller—control, his life, through the work of his Spirit, shines through to produce an effect in others. Or as one friend describes it. “That person absolutely oozes Jesus!”
“To be a disciple is to be a slave of Christ… The radicalism of this demand often feels a world away from the ordinariness of our normal Christian habits and customs…”* I wonder if it’s this slave-of-Jesus mentality, seeping out of our lives when we’re least aware, that produces change in people around us? What if we each asked God to strip away anything in our lives that doesn’t look like Jesus so we can become life changers? Or is this life changing price too steep? Too out of the ordinary? Too radical?