I remember a short-lived game show from the days of black and white TV. A contestant would be chosen from the studio audience and sent off-stage to a “sound proof room.” Three married couples were then chosen from the audience and brought up on stage. The MC would mix them up and re-arrange them so no couples were standing together – no husband was standing next to his own wife, etc.
Then the “contestant” was brought back on stage and given the assignment of quickly re-aligning the six people so that each was back with their own spouse. The show didn’t last long – the task was too simple. They’d almost never miss. It was too easy.
Not surprising, though. Psychologists have long understood that by the time you have spent 10-minutes with another person you become a little bit like them, you tend to take on some of their characteristics. So actually Mama was right: Birds of a feather do flock together. Or maybe it would have been more accurate if she had said, When birds flock together their feathers become more alike.
I understand better now the inspired statement that it’s by beholding we are changed. When we spend time with Him we become a little more like Him, we tend to take on His characteristics. It’s not willpower, it’s not self-discipline, it’s not New Years resolutions. It’s not our good intentions, it’s not our promises, it’s not even wishing real hard. If it’s true that 10-minutes with another person tends to change us to be a little bit like them, imagine what time in the presence of God can do!
Our temptation is often to fight the battle on the wrong hill. Rather than gritting our spiritual teeth and vowing, “I’m going to stop yelling at my kids,” or “I’m not going to read that anymore,” or “I’m not going to watch that anymore,” the decision that ends up being transformational is, “I’m going to consistently spend time in the presence of the only One who can change my life.”
There’s a line in one of our songs that says, “Take away our bent to sinning…” We don’t use that terminology a lot in our language anymore but that’s where the battle is fought; that’s where the victory is won. Through the time we spend in His presence He not only gives us strength to be victorious, He changes the desires of our hearts. Paul’s observation (my paraphrase) was, “…I learn to love what He loves and hate what He hates.” It’s true, then: I am changed by the time I spend with Him. I get it. I find that very encouraging.
By Don Jacobsen