The Mutability of Believers: “That’s a Good Thing Right?”

If you ever want to get to know someone really well, move in with them! Chances are you will never know anyone better than the people you live with, and no one with will ever know you better than the people that live with you. If you are married, have shared a room with siblings, or have had a roommate, you know what I’m talking about. When you are living in that close of proximity with another person, you see all sides of them, and they see all sides of you.

During the first 18 years of my life, I shared a room with my brother for several years in the home that I shared with my parents and sister (I eventually got my own room). Then, when I went to college, I had 9 roommates over the course of 4 years in the college dorms. Now that I’m married, I live with my wife! She’s my favorite roommate to date! Let me tell y’all, I have seen all sides of those 14 people, and those 14 people have seen all sides of me.

I’ve learned that when talking about the people you live with, especially college roommates, the term “normal” is not a very apt term of comparison. My definition of a normal person, and what others define to be  normal could be very drastically different because no two people are the same. Generally, the standard of normal is based on how similar the person is to you. A nerd will find another nerd to be relatively normal, whereas a football jock will find the nerd to be relatively abnormal. We can’t use the term “normal”, but there are many well-known stereotypes about college roommates, so I think we can use terms like “average”, “typical”, and maybe even “ordinary”. I think those are much more apt descriptions. I have only had one of two “normal” college roommates, but I have had at least 5 “typical” college roommates based on the normal college stereotypes.

You may be wondering where I’m going with this post, so I’ll get down to it. Living with someone can be very frustrating at times. They frustrate you, you frustrate them back, they smart off like a jerk, you blow up and storm out of the room – sound familiar? Things aren’t always frustrating with roommates, but they often are, and my point is that these are the things we tend to focus on. Perhaps these are where the stereotypes originate. Here’s my thesis: As fallen humans, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of people, and we often neglect to acknowledge their ability to grow and mature.

After one or two negative experiences with someone, we begin to grow skeptical and untrusting of them in the areas that we relate to them. It’s almost astounding to see how much two strangers can grow to hate each other within 9 months of being roommates. It’s equally astounding to see couples who are so deeply in love with each other grow to distrust and despise one another to the point of divorce. Statistics show that 41% of first marriages, 60% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. They also show that the average first marriage only lasts about 7-8 years. That is a shockingly short marriage in my mind! There are approximately 2.4 million divorces each year in America. Now, I’m not discounting the fact there are legitimate reasons for people to separate and/or divorce. There are a lot of abusers, adulterers, cheaters, thieves, and liars in the world; but I’m merely asserting that many marriages could potentially be saved if people would give each other credit for being able to change. I’m not saying people would change, but I am saying they could. Having that attitude is a game changer, because it produces hope, and hope is something everyone needs when they are struggling. I may be wrong, but I feel like divorce is marital suicide. People see no hope for their marriage, so they take the “easy way out” and get a divorce.

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about having an attitude of patience, forgiveness, and seeing the best in others. Ephesians 4:32 says “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you“. In all honesty, God could have and should have given up on us, but He was patient and forgiving of us. Col. 3:13 says that we ought to follow God’s example (Num. 14:18) by demonstrating forbearance and forgiveness. The same thing is said in Luke 17:3 where we are told to rebuke a brother that has sinned, and then forgive him if and when he repents. In addition to these, Matthew 18 says that if we have anything against our brother, we should go talk it out with him, and try to win him over. Lack of communication is probably one of  the biggest relationship killers there is, and all it takes to fix it is a conversation. People, regardless of their relationship to one another, get angry and bitter because the other has been doing things they dislike for a long time. This could be weeks or it could be decades. However, the offenders only merit partial blame because the offended has never told them that they are offended by the behavior of the other. 

In conclusion, I want to remind you that when we fail to recognize the mutability of believers, we undermine the very foundation of the doctrine of sanctification as well as the sovereignty of God. There are three aspects of sanctification: Initial sanctification (salvation), progressive sanctification (maturation), and ultimate sanctification (glorification). Every aspect of sanctification involves some sort of change or growth. Salvation involves the turning of the heart from sin toward Christ who died to make that change possible; this is a one-time change. Maturation is the process where God, by means of conviction, strips away bad habits and life choices to make us look more like Christ; this is an ongoing process, is often difficult to undergo, and is the phase that all Christians alive today are in. Finally, glorification is when Christ will remove every trace of the sin nature from us, and will fully restore His image in us; this is a one-time change, and will last forever.


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