- Life Stages
CHANGE IS HARD
Change IS hard. Often when we have people come through our Bethel Assistance Ministry (BAM), they are in need of making some lifestyle or financial changes that might help their situation. Many don’t know where to begin, and they often lack the motivation to change, even though they understand it would be to their benefit. Sound familiar? The reality is that change is hard not just for our BAM clients but for all of us!
While I was in seminary, a Professor shared that our Creator put certain “unspoken laws” into place which govern the universe, and one of those is how change and growth are so connected. Here is what we know (sources of quotes are unknown):
· “Living things grow, and growing things change.”
· “If something stops changing and growing, it acquires a new status altogether – it’s dead.”
Living Things Grow and Growing Things Change
We only have to look out our windows to see the truth of this statement! A flower planted in the ground moves from seed to plant to bloom, growing and changing along the way to the fulfillment of who God has created it to be!
It can become easy to slide into content habits and patterns or even complacency. Comfort isn’t bad, and we all crave it. We can, however, choose comfort over change in ways that hinder the work God wants to do in our lives. These choices can keep us stuck instead of propelling us towards something better. Imagine if a flower seed remained in the safe and warm comfort of the rich soil around it…we’d never see its beauty and it would never grow into its destiny.
Pastor Erik Raymond (Senior Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship Church, Boston MA) in an article with the Gospel Coalition entitled “Change is Good,” said the following: “It’s been said that people hate change, but I don’t think this is entirely true. While many people enjoy routines and familiarity, they also welcome new things. Among other things, we like new seasons, new restaurants, new technology, new friends, and new adventures. This is why I tend to think that it’s not change that people resist so much as being changed. It’s not that we don’t like change, we just don’t want to change. This is because it’s hard. It’s uncomfortable, often humbling, and painfully difficult. But as Christians, we must remember that change is really at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. When we believe the gospel, we accept the truth that we need to change. We know we are broken people whom God is making new through Christ. Not only us as individuals, but we believe that God is going to make all things new. There is also a cosmic change coming. God not only wants to change your status—from non-Christian to Christian—but also to change you. He wants to make you like his Son Jesus.”
Our hope lies in Jesus Christ, in being the person He has called us to be—joining in His mission to reconcile the world to Himself! This can only come through growth and change, as we become more and more like Him.
If Something Stops Changing and Growing, it Acquires a New Status Altogether – it’s Dead.
One only needs to look at the American Christian church to understand the gravity of this statement. According to an article by Author Thom Rainer, did you know that between 6,000 and 10,000 churches in the U.S. die each year? That is a staggering statistic!! That means realistically that a few hundred churches will be shutting their doors just this week! Wow! Rainer exclaims, “We are not hindered by external forces; we are hindered by our own lack of commitment, selflessness, and evangelistic urgency. Hear me well, church leaders. For many of your churches the choice is simple: change or die.”
Rainer goes on to state principles that he feels apply to maintaining a healthy church. I firmly believe these same principles could apply to healthy Christians as well:
We must remember our purpose
As Rainer notes, “God placed us in churches to pray for and love one another, to proclaim and teach God’s Word, and to take the gospel to our neighbors and the nations.” The same could be said about us: we must never stray from our identity in Christ. We are heirs and ambassadors, and we should live our lives with purpose, as we were created on purpose.
We must become houses of prayer
Rainer reminds us we should not do too much in our own power. We should be covering all decisions in prayer, asking the Lord to give us wisdom, truth, and strength to carry out His plans and purposes. This is true for the church and for each of us. It’s so easy to jump into decisions and make plans without careful and consistent prayer coverage.
We must cease seeing the church as a place of comfort and stability in the midst of rapid change
God’s truth is unchanging. There is peace and steadiness in that reality. Rainer warns that “church programs and human traditions often become places of misdirected comfort.” If we want to make a difference in our ever-changing world, we must stand on the truth while reaching towards the uncomfortableness of change. Move out of your seat. Stretch out of your comfort zone and into the land of the lost.
We must emphasize evangelism and discipleship, focusing externally rather than internally
The Great Commission never changes. We have been called to care for the lost in our community and our world. We must not always rely on the church to lead programs in helping the lost; we must look around in our own families, neighborhoods, and workplace, asking “who around me doesn’t know Jesus?”
How blessed we are to serve together in a church that values these principles. But it doesn’t stop with Bethel, it starts with each of us! We must be willing to embrace change, even when it’s painful or difficult, in order to fulfill God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
As we journey through change together, let’s remember the promises we find in scripture:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I Peter 5:7
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”
Change IS hard! As Bethel navigates pastoral change in this season, as our BAM processes are updated and changed so that our clients can change, as you experience change in your own life, rest on the promises and assurances that God is faithfully with us through each and every change. His presence with us is one promise that NEVER changes. Amen!