The Author

Change

Recent events have caused me to think about the nature of change. I have been caught up in the news accounts of the dramatic events in North Africa and the Middle East. When multiple thousands of individuals show up seemingly out of nowhere to demand change, something new has been turned loose in the world. We who live on the other side of the globe may assume that the turmoil in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran I could go on – have little to do with us, but we assume incorrectly. In this world, someone sneezes in China, and we catch a cold.

These thoughts about change have also come to me on a personal level. In our church family, we have recently experienced the death of several dear members. While we rejoice in the hope of the resurrection, and are confident in their presence with the Lord, we cannot deny that change has come, particularly for those families, but in some way for all of us. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, but it also means that life is not the same.

What is true for individuals and families is also true for churches. I don’t know if you have noticed it, but church life has changed dramatically. While most of the conversation (or arguments) revolve around worship style, that is only a part of it. Mega-churches that serve as their own denominations, house churches, cowboy churches, biker churches, cell groups, small groups, denominational lines blurring or non-existent, a veritable cafeteria of choices.

The reaction to all this change is fairly predictable. The governments in some countries have reacted with violence to the threat of change, determined to preserve their power. I could tell you about some churches that have done the same. Others have stuck their heads in the sand, pretending that, while the world around them has changed, their little world has not, and thus, there is no need for a response. Still others have met the change with a passive resistance, what the British formerly called a “stiff upper lip,” that is determined to endure until the change changes.

As a Christian, it seems to me that none of those responses is adequate. If we believe that God continues to work in the world (I’m afraid that some of us act like he doesn’t), then God may be the author of some of the change. Even if God isn’t the author, surely he is powerful enough to use that change for his own purposes. If that is true, then the reaction of his children ought not be violence, fear, dismay, or even sticking our heads in the sand. I am reminded of Gamaliel’s response to the anger of those who opposed the first Christian preachers, “If it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God,” (Acts 5:39). Something has been turned loose in the world. Our reaction ought to be one of trust and faithfulness.

Blessings, Sam