Best of Daily Reflections: Change Your Ways and Live!Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
I most certainly don’t want anyone to die! This is what the LORD God says. Change your ways, and live!
The main point of Ezekiel 18 is that all people will be held accountable for their own actions, both good and bad. For example, God will not condemn children of unjust parents because of what the parents have done. Rather, he will judge the children in light of their own works (18:10-20).
Moreover, even if people have done wrong and are worthy of judgment, they can still turn their lives around and please God: "But if the wicked turn away from all the sins that they have committed, keep all my regulations, and act justly and responsibly, they will surely live and not die" (18:21). Similarly, people who have lived rightly can choose to sin, thus deserving divine judgment. But, even these have the chance to repent. Thus, Ezekiel 18 ends with God's invitation: "Change your ways, and live!" (18:32).
The verb translated here as "change" is one of the classical biblical words for repentance. It means, literally, "turn" or "turn around" or "return." It refers to a change of life that reflects a change of heart. It suggests that we are not trapped by our upbringing, our society, or our past behavior. In response to God's call and with his help, we can change our ways.
The invitation of Ezekiel 18:32 echoes throughout the Scriptures, including the teaching of Jesus. In Mark 1, for example, Jesus announces God's good news in this way: "Now is the time! Here comes God's kingdom. Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!" (1:15). Following Jesus isn't just a matter of trusting or believing, though this is essential. Rather, putting our faith in Jesus leads to a change of hearts and lives, to a whole new way of living in the kingdom of God. This isn't simply a matter of "becoming religious" or of adding a few Christian duties to our lives. Rather, saying "yes" to Jesus involves living differently in every sphere of life, including our workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, and churches.
We are able to live in this new way, not by our own strength, but through the power of God's Spirit who lives within us and among the people of God. Thus, God helps us to respond to his invitation to change, not just once in our lifetimes, but each and every day. The result of this change is that we begin to live life in a whole new key, experiencing in part the fullness of life that is yet to come.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How have you responded to God's invitation to change your ways and live? Are you living in ways right now that need to change, by God's help?
PRAYER: Thank you, gracious God, for the invitation of Ezekiel 18:32. Thank you for calling me to change my ways and live! Thank you for echoing that call through Jesus, who invites me to live in a whole different way as a citizen of your kingdom.
O God, help me to respond positively to your invitation. By your grace, may I indeed change my ways. Help me to reject evil and do good. Help me to turn away from selfishness and seek you. By the indwelling power of your Spirit, help me to offer my body as a living sacrifice to you each day, wherever I am.
Thank you, dear Lord, for the promise of life in you, eternal life, abundant life, life as it was meant to be. Amen.