Changing Over Time
You know that realization when you haven't seen someone in a long time, especially a child, and all of a sudden they are almost as tall as you, need to shave, their voice has changed and they look way too young to be driving? If you are a parent, you saw your kids ever day, practically. You really didn't see the drastic changes in their size and other features, only your pocket book did each time they outgrew clothes or shoes. But if you have gone 3-4 years since you saw your 13 year old nephew, you understand what we're saying.
Maybe a poor comparison, yet you get the idea, that we see ourselves every day, we only see little tiny seemingly innocent or insignificant changes, and nothing seems out of place or drastic. But I know people, and you do too, who have changed over time, gradually and maybe even unknowingly to them but drastically to us. Not all change is bad by any means, perhaps they are better, God be praised! But what about those who have gradually lost their faith, who have one missed service at a time lost desire to meet with the Lord's body, who one slow insignificant change at a time are not the person they used to be. Their connection to God and His family has just gradually weakened, not by anybody's intent, yet they now struggle to be faithful in service to God. It's sad that it happens, but just think of how many people fit the bill, and perhaps all of us have at one time or another been in that exact situation.
In my humble opinion, (you may disagree), our problem is that we are still human. Nothing wrong with being human, in fact, we have no other options. But because we are, there is this fallacy or failure in our reasoning some times that unfortunately has us pursue what WE want, and even if those things in and of themselves aren't wrong they may pull us away from God's family simply because of what they require of us.
Matt 26:41 reminds us that ..."The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak". That statement from Jesus to Peter came right after Jesus said, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation." Peter, one going from place to place and in the presence of Jesus the Christ every single day, an Apostle of Christ, and he 's being warned about falling into temptation? Yes. Not only was this Peter's biggest problem, it's our biggest problem too!
James says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:13). When we fail to control our own desires, they can "draw us away", then we get tempted and risk being lured away from God and His family. Simply being away from God and His people for extended periods, even if what we are doing is not in and if itself wrong, changes us, it changes our thinking and it changes our priorities, simply because we are human.
Paul in helping the church in Rome understand the consequences of our earthly decisions says this, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:5-8) A few chapters later Paul says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,..." (Rom 13:14) That doesn't mean we can't enjoy earthly things, it means we deal with them "governed by the Spirit", submitting to His will, and pursuing worldly things with God leading us, not following after ourselves.
Today, you many not be a bond servant to sin or Satan at all, in fact I pray that a self examination reveals you securely "in Christ!". Hopefully you can't identify any changes at all in yourself that have distanced you from Christ. If, on the other hand, you see that there have been some subtle changes that went unnoticed, that perhaps have driven a wedge however large or small between you and God, may the Lord help you to address that human weakness Jesus warned Peter about, and draw you back safe and securely into Him.
Every last one of us need to ask ourselves these questions, because none of us are exempt from being human, that's why Paul reminded the church in Galatia, "for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap..." (Gal 5:7-8). If we sow to the flesh, that's what we will get in return, no doubt about it. How much more perfect is God's plan for us to sow to the Spirit, with the promise of reaping everlasting life?