The Gospel Of Used To

John 9:7-9, “…and (Jesus) said to him (the man born blind), ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, ‘Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?’ Others were saying, ‘This is he,’ still others were saying, ‘No, but he is like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the one.’ ”

Change. What is it about change? We want it. And yet, we fear it. We long for it. And yet, we resist it. We pray for it. But then we fight against it. Sometimes change is easy to define. Easy to recognize. Take the blind man for example. Darkness gave way to light. Even as the clay began to wash from his eyes he was greeted by the seemingly impossible grace of sight. That morning he had awoke blind. That evening he would truly close his eyes for the very first time. In an instant everything had become different. He had experienced genuine change. He had encountered the Gospel of “used to.” He “used” to be blind. Now he could see. Change had entered his life. Not just a feeling. More than just a sense of expectation or deep longing. Real, lasting permanent change. He was no longer the person he “used to” be.

What I find of particular interest is the reactions of the people around him that day. There is something in our human nature that causes us to push back against change. It makes us uncomfortable on so many different levels. It challenges our excuses. It smashes our justifications. It demolishes our rationalizations. When confronted with real change in the lives of others we are forced to accept the fact that our own situations and circumstances are not beyond God’s ability and power. Amazing. Some are questioning the authenticity of the change. Others are denying its reality. And the whole while the man born blind, the man who “used to” to be blind, is testifying to the grace and power of a God who can change any situation.

My thought today is simple. When others look at our lives (or when we look at ourselves in the mirror) what areas of our lives now fall into the category of “used to“? Yes, I agree with you. We will never be perfect. Not on this side of eternity. Thank God for grace. Thank God for forgiveness. But we need to stop hiding behind excuses and rationalizations. Consider nature as God created it. At some point the apple tree bears apples. At some point the egg becomes a chicken. At some point the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Change is a part of God’s plan and purpose. We love to quote Romans 8:28. We would do well to memorize the next verse. Grace usheres us into right fellowship with God. From that point forward God is at work in our lives, working through the agency of His Holy Spirit, to conform us into the likeness of Christ. I should be growing. I should be changing. As the days and weeks and years pass by my life should become increasingly filled with the “used tos” of God’s grace and love.

Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” It’s amazing how change in one area of his life had an immediate impact on the rest of his life. He used to be blind. He used to sit and beg. The restoration of his sight put an end to his life of begging. Never again would he sit at the gate to the Temple hoping to secure scraps of compassion. The one who sat would now stand. The one who begged who now declare with boldness the Gospel of change. Was he perfect now? Hardly. Would he ever make mistakes again? Most certainly. But was he different? Without a doubt. Through the grace of Christ change had entered his life. Stop thinking of change as perfection. Start thinking of change in terms of improvement, in terms of moving in the right direction. Are you still improving? Are you still moving in the right direction? Are you still changing? No matter where you find yourself today, take heart. God is not finished with you. He is still at work in your life. The Gospel of “used to” still has some areas to change.