I find it fascinating to think about change. Not many of us actually like change if we are entirely honest with ourselves. Some of us are better at dealing with it than others, but it is a little bit nerve-racking because you never really know how it is going to turn out. You really don’t know if it will be better, worse, pretty much the same or an entire train wreck.
The interesting part about change is that we all think we know how it is going to go before it actually happens. We don’t know, but we assume that we know and get nervous based on that assumption. You can already see the potential problem here. It is rather obvious, but it seems so unnatural to us. We understand that it is unreasonable to jump to a conclusion about change. We get that. However, resisting that feeling towards just seems wrong. We feel like it is much more natural to be all worried about change itself. And we feel it is natural because of our assumption that we already know what will happen.
I guess the major question then that we will have to answer is how to develop an appropriate perspective on change. We don’t want to be those people that always assume the worst, but we also don’t want to blindly run into change without any type of perspective or caution. We want to balance reasonability with a healthy degree of optimism. We want to be cautious, but we don’t want to blindly reject all change that could in fact bring about remarkable benefits. It really is a balancing act.
I have a few principles that maybe can help us think about change particularly from a Christian worldview.
First, we always have to consider why we are changing. Sometimes we change just for the sake of change. That’s always a dangerous proposition in my opinion. If we are going to change, we should have a definite direction and a definite reason for moving in that direction. This is not automatically assuming that change is good. However, just like any good road trip, if you start out without any sense of direction, you are going to be lost. If you’re changing for the sake of change and not for a very specific purpose, then I think we ought to be extremely cautious. In fact, I would say that we great deal of skepticism is actually merited. We need to make sure that we are changing for a reason that relates to a genuine problem rather than change in just because we feel the need to do something new or different. Honestly, we often times avoid many problems by simply letting things work that are working well.
That being said, if a particular change seems to be merited and necessary, then we have to consider, specifically as Christians, whether or not the particular direction we are going actually brings honor to God. I know that sounds like a cliché, but let me try to expand on that a little bit more. God created us in a certain way. We are people created in the image of God first and foremost, but we are also very specific people created in the image. You are different than me. As a result, there are ways that you are going to bring glory to God, and there are other ways that I am going to. The consequence of this type of worldview them points us towards where we need to go in God’s plan. There are many times where change is needed. We recognize that. However, because we can move in so many different directions, we need to make sure that the choice we make lines up with God’s will.
There is a challenge for you. It can be hard sometimes to figure out what God actually wants. How many of us have ever felt like we just wanted giant letters in the sky spelling out what we should do? Yeah, we have all been there. We want to know that when faced with change we are actually moving in the direction that God would have us to move. It is not always an issue of our stubbornness or our lack of obedience. Sometimes we really don’t know but really want to know.
What are we to do in these types of situations? How do we follow the will of God when it doesn’t seem all that clear? As a brief hint, He gave us a Book. You may think that I’m taking the easy way out here. You can’t believe that I possibly believe that the answers for living in the way God wants us to are in the Bible, but they really are. There is a great deal of wisdom in those pages. We need to remember that. If we are considering a change, we need to make sure it is something that will honor God. The best way to tell if it is something that will honor God is to find out if it lines up with the principles that God has included in His written revelation to us. If God is everything that Christians say He is, then as a loving God, He is not going to leave us stranded out in the middle of nowhere without assistance. Through the written word or the conviction of the Holy Spirit, there are ways to discover the answers we are looking for. I’m not going to lie and say that it is always immediate or obvious. That would totally be false. That said, if I want to find answers, I know where I have to start from a Christian worldview.
I think the final thing to reflect on when we think about change from a Christian worldview after considering whether or not change is necessary and if the change will bring glory to God is if we are ready to count the cost. When we make a change, we have to stick with that. Sometimes it is easy to reverse a change, and sometimes it is not. I think about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He made choices and changed the direction that his life could have gone. He had the opportunity to avoid all of the danger of Nazi Germany, but he went back. He changed his life in a way that cost him everything, but at the point when he ended up in captivity, his choice was made. He knew the potential cost, he stuck to it and he ultimately had to pay that cost.
I can’t help but think about that in my own life. It is really easy, especially after making a change, to want to run away. Change is hard. We don’t like it. Therefore, we might try to change because we find it necessary and change in the direction that God would have us to go. We might have all that in place, but we don’t like the inconvenience or cost that comes with it. If it is really worth it though, we will persevere through it. If it is really what needs to be done, and in the context of something that God would have us to do, it must be done, then it will be worth it.
Again, let me remind you that really no one likes change. That being said, there are a few things that we have to keep in mind. First, we need to change when it is necessary, but we shouldn’t just change the sake of change. Second, we need to change in the direction that God would have us to go. We have to be discerning and use all resources at our disposal to try to ascertain the will of God even if it seems unclear. Finally, we have to remember that change has a cost, so before change, we have to make sure that we are willing to pay that cost if we have to. I think keeping these three principles of mind will help us take a Christian perspective on change and hopefully become a little better at it then we naturally are.