My friend and I nodded. We were already very familiar with the concept that our mutual friend shared. Gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free—amongst the three of us, we had tried all the major diets in our search for better health and happier stomachs. We knew that special diets require more than replacing a forbidden food with an acceptable food; they require learning how to cook in a whole new way.
That concept made me pause for thought. How many times have I tried to replace a sinful habit in my life with an acceptable habit? How many times have I tried to simply modify my life rather than changing it altogether?
The Emptiness of Behavior Modification
Benjamin Franklin tried to modify his life. In his autobiography, he writes about thirteen virtues that he aspired to nurture in his daily habits. Every day, he would rate his performance, consider what he might do to improve upon a particularly troublesome virtue, and repeat the exercise the next day. He hoped that his self-help program would replace his vices with virtues.
But spiritual growth does not work that way.
Many people try to work their way to God by targeting specific virtues to develop: kindness, honesty, generosity. But just as a special diet requires a wholly separate strategy, true spiritual growth requires full replacement. Instead of picking and choosing which parts of our lives could be improved, we must simply hand over the whole thing—all of our life, our motivations, values, hopes, dreams, fears, virtues, and vices.
2 Corinthians 5:21
This is what it means to follow Christ: to exchange everything that we are for everything that Christ is. On the cross, He made the Great Exchange.
He became us: sin and mortality and judgment.
At the same time, we became Him: righteousness and immortality and mercy.
He didn’t fix our problems in bits and pieces, picking and choosing what He would improve upon or modify. He destroyed and remade every single part of the lives He bought.
Sisters, don’t settle for anything less than full replacement. Don’t miss out on the joys of new life because you cling to parts of your old life. The exchanged life that Christ offers is far more amazing than you could ever imagine. Throw away the old, and embrace the new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.