THE FEAR OF CHANGE
No one likes change! I remember finding the first gray hair on my head; I
couldn't get it pulled out quick enough. Now if I were to pull the gray, I
would be bald! Time not only calls for, but demands change. If all that
changed was the color of my hair, then I could live with that, but as you know
that is not all that changes. I'm not as slim as I used to be, not as fast on
my feet (or my mind) as I used to be, and those ten minutes (reviving) naps, now
turn into hours. The 1:00 a.m. bedtime hour now sounds better at 11:00 p.m. Of
course I could react to all this change by becoming a member of the "mid-life
crisis" club, but that still doesn't solve the problem. To make it, I just have
to accept change. That does not mean I have to like it, but since it is outside
my control I will just have to learn to live with it.
In the church there are changes taking place. I am not talking or
considering changes that seem to be doctrinal. I am talking about the cosmetic
changes. You see, it is not within anyone's power to change the doctrine. That
is God's business and if He wants it altered that's fine. But since it says in
His word His ways are unchangeable, I don't expect His plan for man's salvation
to be changed on dot! However, methods are changing.
Church buildings are not what they used to be (remember the days of
no air conditioning, or even worse, remember the days of two-hour services).
Church meetings have changed. Remember the times we had two-week (that is as
far back as I go) gospel meetings? Now we read of churches having one-day
meetings, some of which are on Sundays which really doesn't make it much of a
special occasion. They just give the preacher the day off, and bring in a
special speaker for the day. Some of the songs we sing are different from what
we are used to, and some even put them on overhead projectors instead of using
People today don't dress up the way they used to to go to church
(remember those special Sunday clothes?). Preaching also has changed. Some
preachers have got away not from book, chapter and verse, but the way they use
book, chapter and verse. Instead of using numerous texts that people left not
remembering, some preachers now use a handful of texts, but they explain them in
such a way they play on your spirit the rest of the week. Leadership within the
church has changed. Elderships have moved from being a board of directors to
being shepherds, and caring for the welfare of God's people.
How do we react to all this change? There are some who go into
"this is all new, and we have never done this before" crisis. They get all
upset and dig their heels in, also challenging someone to drag them into modern
times. They seem to forget that they at one time were the agents of change. We
may not like all the changes we are beginning to see, some even make us
uncomfortable, but the fact is change is inevitable! Methods of proclaiming the
unchanging gospel have, and always will go through periods of change. I, like
you, have witnessed methods that overstepped the boundaries laid down by God,
and they have flourished for a while, but then because a Source of life were not
in them, they died their death. Let us all give God the credit for "snuffing"
out the methods that do not meet with His approval. He is still in control!
Let us also realize that change does not mean one is on the slippery slope of
apostasy. I have heard it said many times that "all this changes is leading the
the changes that you have made over the years led the church astray? Why then
make the judgment on others who have just continued what you and others before
you begun? Surely they love the Lord and His church as much as anyone before
them, or why else would they have stayed with it? The only thing threatened
by the change of methods in proclaiming God's word is our traditions and our
comfort zones, and in the scheme of eternal things they don't amount to a
"hill of beans." If we have book, chapter and verse, then speak up and speak
out in opposition to the changes that are not scriptural. But, then, if we
only have "well, I don't like it," be like me with my gray hair and realize,
having it beats the alternative of not living long enough to go gray, or just
going bald! Change beats death!
*Raymond is the minister for the Meridian church of
Christ; Meridian, MS.
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