Shakespeare has one of his characters truly say that wounds heal only by degrees. In the same way, converting from an ego-centered to a Christ-centered life happens by degrees. As the Twelve disciples proved during Christ’s ministry, that change can be so incremental it’s nearly invisible.
Ernie Pyle wrote about the change from home-focused to war-focused perspectives among GI’s in North Africa, 1942. He noted first the change in his own beliefs. He had previously pondered possible defeat by the Germans, due to few troops and supplies reaching American forces. That pessimism vanished with the build-up of troops, planes, tanks and confidence by victory in battle.
He also noted the change in the troops. While stationed in North Africa, they thought only of home. They could hardly wait to return home. As weeks passed, and they concentrated on the military mission, they thought less of home and more of battle. Until, when he wrote, home remained more a figment of memory by war being the monster of reality.
He judged that a nation would take a couple of years to change from a consumer economy to a war economy. While it didn’t take as long for troops to make the alteration, it did happen in the gradual displacement of one perspective by another. Reader’s Digest Illustrated Story WWII, 320
Conversion from ego-centered to Christ-centered thinking is also a process, not an event. The disciples hardly qualified as apostles while Jesus ministered. But once granted the Holy Spirit’s Baptism, they became what Jesus envisioned for 3 ½ years.
The difference is perseverance: soldiers concentrating on their duty, disciples on their responsibility. As soldiers by effort in war put home in the shadows, Christians by involvement in the Christ-life leave little emphasis on ego-building. As time passed, the soldiers forgot about going home until they fulfilled their mission. As time passes for the Christian, we develop the conviction that we can’t and won’t go back to what we were by concentrating on what we’ve become and want to continue being. Our future is a maturing Christ-likeness, not any previous lifestyle we considered irresistible. Whatever help psychology may give us to mesh, not grind our mental gears, the WILL to change our lives drives us forward to the goal for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus Philippians 3:14.