Adapting to Change
Believe it or not, the last known telephone booth in America was removed from the corner of a busy intersection in New York City late last month. One would have thought that pay phones would have disappeared long ago, and for the most part they did, but the one in New York City hung on until the bitter end, even though just about everyone in the country now has a cell phone.
True, there are still many landline phones in business, industry, government, education, and other organizations, but for the most part they are becoming an archaic form of communication. Many people have removed landline phones from their homes, in part because the only incoming calls come from telemarketers or scam artists.
All of this raises the question about how we, as Disciples of Christ, deal with change, particularly in the church. There are many changes forthcoming in the United Methodist Congregation — some of which are being openly embraced; others of which are being soundly rejected.
So, what are we to do, and what type of guidance can we derive from Scripture in regard to change? Well, more than you might expect, according to several familiar Biblical passages.
Romans 12:2 states that we should “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of [our] mind, that by testing [we] may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” In other words, we are not to fall victim to the conventions of this world, especially if they run counter to God’s teaching. At the same time, we are encouraged to be transformed by the renewal of our mind and to pursue that which is “good and acceptable and perfect” in His eyes.
Indeed, transformation is part of our spiritual journey in this world. Colossians 3:10 advises us to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
Even as the world changes, we know that the God we serve does not. This is reinforced in Hebrews 13:8, which states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
So then, how do we remain firm and grounded in a world that is changing faster by the day?
Well that response is nuanced, but it is best for us to be open-minded, to jettison judgment, and to lean on love. The Gospel of Matthew warns of the perils of judging others. Corinthians 13:13 emphasizes the power of love with this passage: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
We can always rely on our faith, our hope, and, of course, our love, which conquers all — even in the face of relentless change.
Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John