As I neared the currency exchange booth of the Taoyuan International Airport, I was relieved to see it still open. Brightly lit, the words “foreign exchange” were boldly posted in both Mandarin and English with a digital listing of the daily rate change listed clearly to view. Thirty years since my first visit to the booth, I now had the option of an ATM; but force of habit found me interacting with the currency clerk behind the counter.
Honestly, language isn’t needed at the booth. As soon as I near the glassed-in kiosk, the cashier knows why I have come. His only concern is the type of currency I am exchanging. When I slide my green cash into the metal indentation, he adjusts his exchange calculator to the current U.S. rate. In less than a minute, my money is exchanged and I am that much closer to a good night’s rest.
Now let’s suppose that I wanted to visit Taiwan, but continue using American currency on its streets. Could the currency clerk alter my U.S. money for local spending? Could he somehow dye my green bill to match Taiwan’s blue and red ones? Could he alter the face of Benjamin Franklin to better match the familiar blue of Chang Kai Shek? Or could he carefully modify “in God we trust” to look like traditional Chinese characters? Of course not. To suggest such nonsense is to dismiss it.
Yet, we attempt this very thing in our Christian lives. When we come to Christ, we open our hearts to Him and invite His life into ours. But once we settle into the busyness of life, we try to use our old lives to address problems. When we find our patience inadequate, we alter it hoping to patch it up enough to use successfully.
However, Christ did not come to earth to change our lives, but to exchange them. Just as no amount of alteration can make an NT Dollar into a US one; no amount of adjustment can make our fleshly lives holy. “Nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18).
Search the scriptures. Peace is never found within man, but only in Christ (Ephesians 2:14). Faithfulness is never found within man, but only in Christ (Hebrews 10:23). Love is never found within man (even the Christian), but only in Christ (Romans 8:39).
All the virtues we long for cannot be found within us, no matter how hard we try. Christ didn’t come to improve our life but to dissolve it into His. It is literally no longer you who live, but Christ’s life that now lives within you (Galatians 2:20).
Our lives are lived with daily frustration trying to spend the wrong currency. We try to spend our righteousness by merely holding our tongues. We try to spend our patience by merely holding our temper. We try to spend our own hope by repeating positive thoughts. Even if the situation temporarily accepts fleshly currency, some situation will find us out and we will practice the very evil that we do not wish (Romans 7:19).
Paul speaks of this exchanged life plainly in his letter to the church in Rome. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled (Greek: katallasso – “to change, exchange, as coins for others of equivalent value”) to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled (Greek: katallasso), we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). Notice, he uses the same word or a close derivative of it five times in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
When we received Christ’s life, we participated in the Divine Exchange. Similar to a money exchange transaction, our sin life was slipped underneath the veil and traded for His Righteous life. “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Hallelujah! “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). “The old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
May we live His life today, rather than trying to pawn off our old adjusted life into a situation. We have been exchanged, not merely changed. Hallelujah. It is finished (John 19:30).