Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
In my experience, change can often be good – finally deciding to stop wearing that mullet I wore in the 80s, for example, or forgoing my constant diet of macaroni and cheese and KFC a few years ago, thereby losing down to a waist size that didn’t require the death of a small herd of cattle just to get enough leather for a belt.
An even bigger change for me, and one that had far more significance than giving up the “business in the front; party in the back” look, was my spiritual about-face: surrendering my life to Jesus Christ and abandoning my former pursuit of – well, nothing worth mentioning. That change was, like, totally awesome (fer shure).
Conversely, change can sometimes be unsettling, causing reactions that can range from, at best, eyebrow raising to, at worst, cussing; and sometimes, for good reason…
- Remember the “New Coke” debacle of 1985? The Coca-Cola Company changed its tried and true 99-year-old formula for Coke to make it more in line with the sweeter Pepsi Cola, a change taste tests clearly showed people preferred. However, to say the Coke-drinking public’s reaction was less that positive is an understatement. You’d have thought Coca-Cola had announced they were going to murder puppies and kittens.
- Ever been around when Facebook foists some change in privacy controls or layout on its users? The status-sphere can just get downright nasty. (“As God is my witness, I will never change to Timeline!”)
- On a personal note, I just looked at the disgusting change in my take-home pay. Breathe…
For me, I must confess that clinging to familiarity has become an ingrained character trait. Even though going from being a fat guy to a 70 lbs. lighter guy was a very positive change, it was still a little unsettling. Previously, I was resigned to being overweight and never had to worry about counting anything but the change in my pocket to make sure I had enough for a Snickers bar from the vending machine. Now, however, there is a constant collection of carbs, calories, and grams of fat to count, lest I once again end up becoming a walking death knell to the bovine set.
For all of us, with so much uncertainty in the world it’s easy to see how even minor changes to those things that are part of our collective comfort-through-familiarity psyche can send us into a tailspin. But through it all – the loss of civility, security, and integrity in our country; the increasing unrest in much of the world; even challenges with simply navigating our way through the day – there is one constant; one unchangeable force.
Jesus: the good shepherd; the author of our salvation; the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the patient lover of my wayward soul.
The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 13, verse 8 that:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
I’m strictly a linear time kind of guy and “forever” is a unit of time that I have trouble getting my arms around, but, even so, it’s obvious that there is no conditional statement here – no “as long as…” or “until…”. Jesus simply said that He has always been the same; always will be. This means He will never ever change His mind or go back on a promise He made when He was living here on earth.
So when He said…
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
…He meant “whoever” – no exceptions. And when He said…
“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22
…He meant “whatever” – seriously.
This gives me a huge dose of comfort and hope – although things around me are changing in disconcerting and even frightening ways, Jesus, my rock, is not one of them.
But here’s the fine print: Jesus didn’t only make warm and fuzzy promises. In Matthew chapter 25, verses 41-46, He talks about separating us all into two groups in the end: His followers on the right and those who were not on the left. If you’re one of the ones who is not a follower, His promise to you will be hard to hear:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment…”
Sobering? No doubt that was His intention.
But even though Jesus is unchangeable, as are His promises, we’re not. There’s a way to change your seat to the other side of the room – I know, because, until June 17, 2010, I had a reserved seat on the left, probably up near the front. But I became one of the “whoevers;” and the “whatever” I asked for was for Jesus to change me, to take control of my life. And just like He promised in John 3:16, I now have eternal life. Not will have – have; it started in June 2010.
So what do you think? Are you thinking it’s time for you to take the same-forever-to-infinity-squared Jesus at His word? Just like the eternal punishment promise, the warm and fuzzy promises were made to all of us, too – those on the left and those who, but for the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father, still would be.
One last bit of fine print, though: the warm and fuzzy promises are limited time offers. One day it will be too late to become a “whoever;” too late to change sides. When Jesus said..
“…I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3
…He wasn’t kidding. He’s coming back to take the “whoevers” out of this fast deteriorating world – and sooner rather than later. Three times in Revelation chapter 22 Jesus made this promise:
“I am coming soon!” (v. 7)
“I am coming soon!” (v. 12)
“I am coming soon.” (v. 20)
I think He meant it.
What do you think?