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God Doesn't Change, But We Can

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

 An image of two people on top of a beautiful green cliff. They are turned towards the sun with their arms wide open.

To say that God never changes is not to say that he doesn’t shift his strategies to account for changing realities here on earth. Nothing precludes him from altering the way he accomplishes his purposes. And it is not to say that he does not allow himself to be moved by our prayers.

God’s immutability applies to his character and to his will. He always hates sin but longs for sinners to return to him. He is always just but his justice is tempered by mercy. He is always powerful whether or not he displays that power. He is always loving, omniscient, near, forgiving, and wise. His attributes never change.

Though God is not predictable, it’s possible to predict certain things about his character because of what he has already told us about himself. As his followers, we need to hold onto the truth so that when circumstances paint him as unloving, weak, or uncaring, our response will not be to revise our opinion of God but to doubt the evidence, realizing its insufficiency to prove him other than he is.

Fortunately, even though God can’t change, imperfect human beings can. We can grow up both physically and spiritually, becoming more like the Christ we love. As difficult as change can be, it is an opportunity we can embrace. For the believer, two things make change possible: obedience to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.

If we refuse to change in the ways God asks, we will inevitably change for the worse. At such times some people begin to demand that God be the one to change. Offended by commandments that contradict certain cultural values, for instance, they insist these are no longer valid. But to try to get God to change so that we can remain the same is foolish. It’s like running your car at full speed into the side of a mountain.

Instead of hoping and waiting for God to change, we should admit that we are the ones who need to be different. Knowing this, we should pray that his transforming grace will shape our minds and hearts until everything about us reflects more of his unchanging goodness.

 
Originally published April 10, 2018.

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