Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”Matthew chapter 17, verse 21; from the New King James Version (NKJV)
To see situations change or people change, is it more important to DO something different, or BECOME someone different? We all know the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, expecting different results! Right? So, if you want different results, then DO something different. Right? Not so fast, my friends. It requires more than simply doing something different. I’ve been in this “pastor-life” for decades, and I cannot tell you the number of events I’ve attended and books I’ve read about changing the decline of a church. Each one told us something different to do; and without exception, nothing brought about long-term change. Doing doesn’t seem to work.
Case in point: today’s passage. Remember the whole story with me. Jesus had taken 3 of His disciples to what we call The Mount of Transfiguration. He left the others behind. And while the others were waiting for Jesus and those 3 to return, a man brought his son afflicted with a demon to them, asking them to drive out that demon out. Well, they tried–but without success. When Jesus did return, that Dad brought his son to Jesus–and of course–Jesus drove out that demon. With me so far? Great!
And afterwards, those same disciples pulled Jesus aside for a private moment to ask: Why couldn’t WE cast out that demon? In other words, What do we need to DO different? Somehow as human beings, we think that if we just DO something different we can change the situation. For instance, my former Tribe. It has been in decline since 1968; actually even before then. And ever since then, they have been trying to DO something different. And the result is that it’s falling apart–becoming the very thing that John Wesley feared the most: a sect of people who have a form of godliness but without the power!
Perhaps it’s time we all become someone different. That word become means to change, or grow to be. And an enlightening synonym for become is to grow into! Rather than focusing on how to change situations and/or people–what if we focused on how to grow into the Image of the One who created us? Instead of doing something, ANYTHING, to change others and the world, what if we focused on ourselves first? Not what we do–but who we are becoming? Are we growing into God’s perfect image? Or are we just doing different things so as not to be insane?
And what does Jesus have to say? To the question of those disciples; to my question of the day? Doing the same things over and over while expecting different results is indeed, the definition of insane! But doing something different is a not a guarantee of a different outcome. So, do we just throw up our hands in despair? Not hardly! Listen to the answer Jesus gave them–and is giving us:
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.Matthew chapter 17, verse 21 (NKJV)
Prayer AND fasting is about us–it changes our focus from doing to being—being in the presence of God. And in those moments we can learn how to become a real disciple and follower of Jesus! When we become a true disciple and follower of Jesus, the doing takes care of itself. After all, what many are doing right now isn’t working. And remember: Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!