The Difficult Truth Series: People Don’t Change
“People don’t change.” I hear that every so often, usually after someone’s feelings have been hurt. Sometimes I lean toward disagreement.
“No,” I will say “people can change.” And off we go.
People Don’t Change
I fancy myself as an optimist. I believe that people will strive toward goodness despite their propensity to sin.
But others take the realist approach. “No. Trust me,” they say, “people don’t change.”
And they have scripture to back it up:
“As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly” (Prov. 26:11).
First, I think of other people—after all, that’s our inclination when it’s time to cast judgment. I see them making the same mistakes. They’re living in their old ways, but to them, it’s just the way. It’s what they’ve known, and they are happy. And some of them are oblivious to the pain they bring to the lives around them.
Then, I think of myself. I look at where I used to be, where I am, and where I’m planning to go. I realize how remaining busily absorbed in myself is getting me nowhere. I watch my hands repeat the same motions over and over, guided by signals traveling through neural pathways built through repetition. I know I have the power to change them, but sometimes, I can’t.
People don’t change. It’s true. We want to change. We know we should change.
But we don’t.
Not in any sort of meaningful way.
The Disciples Changed
This notion was validated once again as I watched a video from Andy Bannister of RZIM titled “Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead?” about four facts surrounding Jesus that are undisputed among Biblical scholars and historians.
After stating the four facts, he reveals one more line of evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus:
The beginning of the early church and the transformation of the disciples from frightened co-conspirators after Jesus’s death into bold missionaries willing to face death rather than deny the truth of what they had seen and witnessed.
Bannister is saying that the disciples changed. Something so extraordinary happened that they refused to ever again return to their vomit. They refused to be the frightened people they once were. From that point on, they made their lives wholly about sharing the gospel—the Good News—with everyone.
The disciples were changed after Jesus appeared to them following his resurrection. But people don’t change.
God changes people.
What do you think? Can people change on their own?
Photo Credit: Public Domain, Horne, Charles, and Julius Bewer, The Bible and Its Story: Acts–Epistles, Apostles to Revelation. Vol. 10 (New York, NY: Francis R. Niglutsch, 1910), Logos.
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About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.