Is Change A Good Thing?
For Indianapolis Colts fans, the day Peyton Manning emotionally announced the decision to move to another NFL team was a day they never thought would come. But it did. After 14 incredible seasons with the Colts, including a Super Bowl ring, Manning will be seen wearing a different uniform come opening season kick-off.
Change is a sure thing in life. To many the thought of change causes muscles to tense and heart beats to race. For others change is exciting and desired. I have to admit that I am a person who likes change. I don’t necessarily seek after major changes constantly but I do like things to be constantly changing in small ways. I like the things I am involved in to get better and not stagnant. So how should we handle change in our lives? The key is balance. Thanks to my good friend Adel Bishai for always reminding us young people of that truth.
I know people who change so much on a constant basis that they never settle. They buy new cars every few years, rearrange their homes annually and change their wardrobe every season. They are always looking for the next best thing. They are always moving from one thing to the next. Often when it comes to ministries they are involved in they start well and get bored and move on. They can never finish reading a book of the Bible before starting another one.
I also know people who NEVER change. They are the exact opposite of the change seeker and they would rather dig their heels in and avoid change at all cost. They order the same foods at restaurants, vacation at the same types of places and buy the same makes of vehicles. They cringe at the thought of major changes and usually live in the same house or region their entire lives.
What does the Bible tell us about change? A few verses come to mind. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” As born again saints we now have a spiritual goal. That goal is to reflect the perfect and glorious image of the Lord. The problem is that we are far from perfect or glorious. So there needs to be change. There needs to be growth. No change, no growth. The wonderful assurance of the believer is that the One whose image we are changing into is the same One who is responsible to make sure it happens. Paul in Philippians 1 says to us, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
What about change within the local church? This has over the past several decades been the subject of much discussion, debate and division. It has always saddened me to hear of local churches splitting over change. What can we learn from scripture about change in the local church? Paul speaking to the Ephesian church told them, “He (God) makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” To the Colossians he says, “For He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.” The local church is a place of growth, not numerically but spiritually. Growth cannot be achieved without change. How is that change evidenced? In the lives of each member of the body serving the Lord, using their gifts and edifying one another. My role within the church is to help others grow as I do my “special work”. Love is the main ingredient in this work and as my love grows for other so the church will grow also. “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding” Philippians 1:9.
If the local church is to grow and change how does that work in a practical sense? We couldn’t take the time in this article to discuss all the things that might bring about changes within a local church: music, ministry opportunities, evangelism methods, Bible translations, clothing, financial spending etc. I would however share 2 simple observations. A local church that does not go through changes in these areas mentioned above is often stagnant, resisting the leading of the Holy Spirit and not seeing many souls saved. On the other hand a local church who is constantly changing and there are no established practices can be like revolving doors that never stop. People come and people go and there is little sustained growth (spiritually). Obviously these are general statements and don’t fit every local church.
So back to the key – balance. I challenge you as a member of a local church to ask 2 simple questions.
1. Is my local church resisting change just because they like things to stay the same as they have always been? If so, are the issues at hand Biblical or personal preference? How could we make changes to spur on more growth, love and understanding? Is our lack of change hindering other believers from growing in the Lord?
2. Is my local church constantly changing just to change? If so, how can we find more balance within our body of Christians and see real sustained growth?
Change is not only good, it’s necessary in order for us to grow. If we are the same today as were 10, 20 or 50 years ago then we have denied the work of the Holy Spirit to help us grow. If we are always changing and never settling into God’s plan for our lives then we are robbing Him of the work of enduring and strengthening us. How is your life changing? How is Christ changing you?