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Remember Grace in Times of Change



Times of change are like spring cleaning: Everything gets messier before it's cleaner.

 

You know it needs to happen, you know it's going to be a little chaotic. Even if it's just one closet, everything gets hauled out before it can be organized or donated.

When we have to adapt to something new, there's at least a tiny bit of disorder as we adjust.

 

We're a small, country church. The building we've been in since 1897 had an expansion over 25 years ago, but in the last few years as we've seen significant growth, leading to the exciting challenge of trying to fit everyone in for our Sunday worship service. Of course, there's a long term plan to build and those pieces are all getting put together, however there's an urgency to meeting the needs right now, which has led to the addition of a second service.

 

It's common to generalize, saying we don't like change. But consider how eager we are for the signs of spring, as a new season evolves, or to try a new recipe, or a new restaurant. Or, even the eagerness to try out, or purchase, the latest technology.

 

It's not that we don't like change, often our attitude is dependent on whether or not we want it.

 

When routine alters, we lose control and familiarity—the very things we cling to for our sense of security.

 

But does sameness really provide the safety we long for?

 

Our family has been through a few seasons of transition and I'll readily admit they're not easy, because those moments challenge our ability to accept a new reality.

Even as I consider the shifts we will continue to face as the kids grow older, as I begin a new work in counselling, and whatever the Lord has in store for us, these are opportunities to learn how to adjust.

 

The Gospel is About Change

I'm encouraged to remember that change is a good thing, it's what the gospel is all about.

 

First, we're changed from our old self to a new creation: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Cor. 5:17).

 

Then, we're continually changed into the likeness of Christ: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom.8:29).

 

And, one day we will be changed again: "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51).

 

The storyline of Scripture is about how the Lord is redeeming his people into a holy nation to spread his kingdom until he returns to make things new again. Change is the not-so-secret ingredient to his work.

 

So how can we stay near the heart of Christ when we face changes?


 
 

Trust (and pray for) your church leaders

Decisions in leadership aren't easy. For those of us in the pews, we likely only fully have one perspective—our own. We easily dismiss the reality that there've been frequent discussions and prayer throughout the process. To gaze with another viewpoint can be difficult, unless we ask questions with curiosity, rather than condemnation.

 

The author of Hebrews reminds us to, "obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Heb. 13:17). Of course we want to keep this in the context of preferences, not spiritual abuse, because most of the time our disgruntled upset is exactly that—our preferences.

 

So, we bring our leaders to the Lord in prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-4). Ministry is a privilege and a joy, but there are certainly difficulties they face, particularly when it comes to interpersonal issues.

 

If you've got feelings, explore them

We all have ideas and preferences on how we think things should be done. The Lord has given us passions, gifts and abilities that range widely within the body of Christ, creating a beautiful, asymmetrical pattern. When we consider the church as a body with different parts, each has a different point of view, particularly about what they value.

 

So, it's important to explore our own ideas and preferences, including the emotion that's driving us. Whether we feel unheard or forgotten, whether we're afraid something will be missed, or see opportunities abandoned. In our personal reflection we can better understand our emotion, then separate it from the issue at hand, then move to problem solving from there.

 

As much as we may wish for it, the world does not stay the same. 

The continuum of time hoists our age up each year, as seasons come and go. But it’s also a good thing, because it reminds us of the Spirit’s work in changing us to be more like Christ—a strong and sure hope we hang onto.  

 

We also know the One who does.

 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

 

So when we’re looking for safety and security amidst the changes all around us, we need only to lift our gaze to him.

 

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