I was catching up on sports the other day on ESPN when I came across an article on Manny Ramirez, who abruptly retired from baseball last year after a second violation of baseball's performance-enhancing drug rules. I am actually not much of a baseball fan, but the article caught my attention because it discussed Ramirez wanting to re-enter baseball because he felt as if he could now be a role model.
He was quoted in the article saying, "I want to show people that Manny can change, that he can do the right thing."
Now I in no way intend to judge the sport of baseball, their rules, or whether or not a team indeed reinstates the player. In fact I agree with Ramirez for wanting to finish his career in baseball in a different way, so for that I respect his decision to leave a better legacy.
So Manny thinks that he can change and do the right thing. Well perhaps he can for a season or two until he retires again. I do believe that he can follow the rules of baseball for that amount of time. But Manny changing and doing the right thing long-term will not happen on his own strength, but only through recognizing his need and dependency on the man Jesus Christ.
Just like Manny Ramirez believes that he can change to do the right thing, many Christians inherently believe the same thing. They may not always say it, but if you have a deep conversation with them it will come out. For many people that you sit right next to every week in church believe that if they try harder that they will become a better person and indeed go to heaven. What ends up happening is if the gospel has never saturated their life then they are really turning to self for change.
We have all been there at one time and we all know how the story goes. I will try harder at not doing x, y, or z or at doing x,y, or z and within time we fail. We pick ourselves back up and try harder. This is a never ending cycle that only the gospel trumps.
Religion says, I can change on my own; but the Gospel says you can be changed in and through Jesus Christ. Instead of trying harder to change on our own, we need to try harder at listening to the spirit of God, and listen to what he is calling us to do. We will never be able to change and do the right thing on our own, but the good news is that Jesus has already made a way that we can change in himself.