We talk about life change all the time. If you're a Community Group leader, it's your biggest goal for the people you lead. But what exactly is "life change"? How do you know it when you see it?
It's tempting to think of life change in terms of a shift in behavior. Changes in behavior can be a sign of life change, but they aren't the goal. The kind of life change we hope for—people becoming more and more like Jesus—isn't merely about how we behave. Real life change is characterized by healthy relationships and spiritual growth. That idea comes from Matthew 22:36–40, in which Jesus identifies the greatest commandment:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That kind of life change begins internally with things like:
- trusting God's faithfulness regardless of discouraging or confusing circumstances,
- wanting physical and mental purity,
- viewing one's time, talents, and resources with an eternal perspective,
- prioritizing the truth of God's Word in decision making,
- loving others unconditionally, and
- developing a forgiving and compassionate heart.
Those kinds of internal changes usually result in behavior changes, but the external changes may be subtle—even unnoticeable—in the short term. Internal change is more important than behavioral change. Behavioral change without change of heart is often temporary. Behavioral change without change of heart doesn't bring a person closer to God.
It's also important to remember that life change is usually incremental. Any movement towards a closer relationship with Jesus is good. That's the win for group leadership.