Lose weight without changing what you eat. Get in shape without changing how much you exercise. Have a better relationship with your significant other without you changing a thing.
What do these ideas have in common? Well, they are all not likely to happen. In fact “likely” is too weak of a word to use because to see change without changing is just wishful thinking. I believe it is wishful thinking similar to the idea that you will find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It is not going to happen….or is it?
I do not know who originally said it, but we often hear that no matter what, change will happen. So change without changing can happen? Yes, the question is whether or not you will like the change.
J. Henri Fabre in The Life of the Caterpillar describes an experiment he performed using Pine Caterpillars. These caterpillars are processionary, which means they follow each other nose to tail. Fabre lined them up around a vase to see what would happen. He thought for sure they would get hungry and change their course, but they did not. Instead they followed each other around the vase until they reached a point of exhaustion and despair, falling off of the vase and then, and only then, finding change and their safety again.
Change happens, but to change without changing usually does not bring a “happy” result.
For instance, many churches are changing now. However, the change they are seeing occurs without changing, which leads to fewer and fewer people in church. The purpose of the church is to be the opposite, to see people far from God come to know God’s love.
So how do we have change that occurs with changing, that is, intentional change, in order to live out our purpose? And no, the answer is not as simple as being contemporary rather than traditional. There are many unhealthy, changing for the wrong reason, contemporary churches out there as well.
I believe one of the biggest changes we need to see is realizing why we are gathered together in the first place. Ask yourself the question, why are you in church? The answers we give to this question are often selfish, such as: “I like this,” and “I like that.” We refer to it, dare I say, as “my” or “our” church.
Why do we gather together? We gather together because of what God has done for us. He has made us whole. He has healed us. He has saved us. He has made us new. He has made us holy. He has made us righteous.
Do we need to change? You better believe it. We need to change. We need to be made new.
The Apostle Paul did not want to be a Christian. He was more than happy going around persecuting them. Then Jesus changed him. Jesus made him new. Paul then writes:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Moses did not really want to go to Pharaoh. We know that Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. I already mentioned Paul above. I am not sure the other disciples really wanted to be persecuted and die because of their faith. And yet…they gave their lives to God, willing to go where He told them to go. They were changed.
You may read this and think that I am not saying what I really want to say, or you may be hearing even more than I am intending to say. In some ways, you may be right to think I have not even said anything, that I am just going around and around about this idea of change.
And yet…I hope there is some wrestling in your mind and in your heart. I do not have one particular area of change on which I am focused. I do not have any hidden agendas here except for us to be the church, and for that to happen, there must be change. There always has been change, and there always will be change to be the church, the changing of hearts to love God and God alone.
It is a change, that through God’s grace, He is still working in me too.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)