The one thing you should never change your mind about

Acts 28


You’re going to change your mind, eventually. But there are certain things that should remain the same.

The first slice of pizza is always the best one.  After three slices, you might still like the pizza, but gradually your satisfaction will peak as you consume more pizza; the thought of another slice of pizza will only nauseate you over time. Unless you don’t like pizza or you’re lactose intolerant.  The first one will do it for you.

This is a scant illustration of the law of diminishing marginal utility — basically, the more that’s produced/consumed, the less satisfying or more costly it becomes. This happens in music (a la “That Thing You Do” — or more familiarly, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”) and with dance crazes such as the running man, Gangnam style, or perhaps the Hammer Dance.

I admit, that last one is still fun to watch.

The point is, people are fickle. You can be on top one day, and seemingly the next moment people just don’t care. At least Rick Astley got a second chance.

You might remember the story of Paul’s snake bite in the book of Acts. After a horrendous shipwreck, Paul and other prisoners and guards end up on the island Malta, where Paul subsequently gets bitten by a snake. Immediately, onlookers believe him cursed, being a criminal and all, and presume he’ll die soon enough. The text states that Paul suffered no harm — merely a flesh wound — and the barbarians shift their perspective quickly, deciding perhaps that Paul is a god.

Regarding this story, I have a few controversies to address before arriving at the main point. Skeptics believe this story is folklore, especially since science proves that no venomous snakes reside on Malta. While some of the rebuttals appear speculative, they cannot be dismissed as possibilities:

– We don’t know HOW venomous the snake was. Paul “shook it off” — it couldn’t have been that large, and typically larger vipers carry larger doses of venom.
– Is it possible that the snake found its way to the island by ship? Paul’s posse wasn’t the only group to arrive at the island by ship — destroyed or otherwise.
– The natives (KJV degrades them to “barbarians”) are an unreliable source. They thought he was a god because he shook off a snake. I won numerous wallball games in elementary school and deceived everyone to believe I was a boss, but I was actually a huge nerd.

This guy provides further explanations:

It doesn’t take long for people to change their minds about stuff.  I’m not exempt; for some reason, over the course of my marriage, I have become incredibly indecisive, even regarding food choices and what t-shirt I’m going to wear. We lose interest in things quickly; number one hits only last a few weeks, and the iPhone is soon replaced by the next model.

I suppose some of this is what makes us American, and what makes capitalism work.  We can change our minds about what we like, and there’s likely a product that will satisfy us, and someone will make a few bucks off of our fickleness.

However, it’s imperative that we take a stance on one thing in particular: that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Paul is a prisoner because of this stance, and at any point in his journey over the last few chapters, he could have recanted his beliefs and been a free man, yet he remains resolute. No waffling. The eternal reward for his unwavering ways far exceeded the temporal benefits the world would offer him in his mind.

Contrarily, the natives were fast to change their minds about Paul’s identity, doing so sooner than the scabs on his arm would heal up. Perhaps they would be convinced once again that Jesus Himself is Lord through Paul’s further miraculous deeds on the island. But I think the natives represent humans at large: we go for new cars, different women, and the latest clothing trends. We’re a fickle people. But when it comes to our faith, we really shouldn’t be.

Don’t change your mind. It might seem contrary to liberality or progress, or prove unpopular. It might even seem narrow. When scientific research proves a previous theory wrong, the new position is embraced and the old is dispensed. But through the millenia of human existence, God has never shifted and cannot be moved.

The world will certainly change and, someday, fall apart entirely. But there is one constant that exists, and that is the Lord Almighty, who dwells within every believer and resides over the entire universe, who is always dependable and never, ever changes. If you desire stability in a fickle world, stand upon the foundation of Christ.

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