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Change We Can Believe In

July 20, 2010

by Jeff Murray

What if we changed how we view change?

Let’s consider this hypothetical scenario.

It’s the last day of your high school career. You’re frantically forcing your friends to fill the final autograph pages of your James Bond-themed yearbook, and while you hectically search for that blonde crush you first met freshman year, second period, biology class with Mrs. Gluck, your “BFF” rushes up to you. They grab your yearbook, quickly scribble in it, and shove it back into your hands. OMG? Right? You slowly recover from the frenzied blur as your eyes begin to scan the scribbled note. It reads, “Please, Don’t Ever Change.”

But years after the ink has smeared, dried in the ancient, tattered pages of that 2003 yearbook, you find that you have changed, in many ways drastically, and the once urgent request of your friend grows even more unrealistic; it slowly dissolves and fades into the growing expanse of distant memories

People change. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, relationally spiritually; in many different ways and shapes. Some of this change is positive, some of it is negative. We move from American Idol to Glee, Myspace to Facebook, from PC to MacBook Pro. We learn how to break up with a significant other, how not to break up, and how to cry when we are the ones hurting. We also learn that sometimes it feels good to set the once sentimental stuff on fire; just don’t do it on the front lawn.

But in spirituality, change is commonly referred to as a Faith Crisis, an Existential Crisis, or a Spiritual Dilemma; in short, the kind of change those Left Behind movies really make the masses sweat about. Sometimes, this shift is also referred to as “Losing Your Faith,” “Doubting Your Faith;” terms that describe it as a religious emergency; suggesting that, I/you/he/she is in a desperate situation and needs the Prayer Team, STAT, or else this person is going to be fast friends with Buck Williams and the Tribulation Force.

I would like to propose that this is the wrong perspective; an unhealthy perspective. What I want to propose, is that rather than a panic that says, “this person is losing their faith, tie a tourniquet of holy water around their arm,” I want to see this as a period of change. Something that is healthy. Something that is necessary.

You cannot tell me the Christian faith is not dynamic.

About 200 years ago, many Christians believed that the slavery of another human was God ordained. Even farther back, the practice of selling indulgences to get out of Purgatory brought the majority of income to most churches. I think everyone now agrees those are horrible theologies.

Christianity has changed.

We shouldn’t preach that the divineness of God is completely grasped in our human heads and should remain in that perception forever. Its foolish to assume a human mind could comprehend something so vast, so pure. We learn about God through various scriptures, through teaching, through stories, and other types of revelations that God chooses to break through and when this happens, sometimes we change. These changes and transitions should be questioned, prayed over, and discussed, but never condemned. And if God is as grand, forgiving, and loving as we claim God to be, then as Andre Guide says, the father will be waiting for us always at the end of the desert.

But why do many Christians change to see God in so many different ways? Why do people change differently? Why are there denominations inside of denominations? With these questions in mind, let’s consider a simple parable for a moment.

There once were three young children and, conveniently enough, all three of them were named Christian. They had an incredible and loving Mother that they each loved incredibly in return. But, oddly enough, the three children had never given their Mother a real hug. So, one day, they all decided they were going to finally meet their mother and give her a real, giant hug; but none of them could agree on how to find her.

The first Christian, the oldest brother, was very literate and said, “I’m going to read these ancient books written by people, who knew, saw, and heard mother, and follow their directions exactly, so that I can get to her as efficiently as possible.”

The second Christian, a younger brother, unfortunately did not know how to read and said, “I’m going to follow one of the wisest travel guides, who says he knows how to find our mother.”

The third and youngest Christian was a little girl, who was extremely confused and torn between the two methods. A short time ago, the daughter had been cheated by a guide, who had used the ancient books to lead her astray, steal her money, and abandon her. Finally out of frustration and pressure, she shouted, “ That’s it! I don’t want to trust anything! I must simply go all on my own to find Mother.”

Early the next morning, with cold dew and warm sunlight lying freshly on the tops of their shoulders, the three young children firmly grabbed the thick leather strap of their packs and set off to find their mother.

Now, Which child was the right one? Do you think that the Mother would punish any of these children for choosing a certain method? Do you think any of the children changed their methods while searching for their mother? Which one was the true Christian?

What would happen if our perspective of spiritual change, changed? It became something good? Something beautiful on our journeys to discover who or what God really was?

I don’t think it would be a crisis anymore.

I don’t think it would be something to flee, retreat, or cower from.

I don’t think we would treat our pastor’s home number as a “911 Emergency-Line.”

I don’t think we would be urging the autograph pages of our BFF’s yearbooks to “Please, Don’t Ever Change!”

I think we would be a lot more humble

I think we would be a lot more understanding.

I think we would be a lot more open to questions; to doubt; to change.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 5, 2010 6:31 PM

    Thanks for the post Jeff. I really appreciate your challenge to approach faith with an openness that if often difficult for our (read: my) finite minds.

    I also quite liked your analogy to faith. To complete it though we must know that the Mother, or, analogy aside, God can be found. What’s more, despite our sometimes short-sighted or self-serving attempts to find him, he makes himself available by revealing himself to us. So ultimately, I believe, though we embark on a search, our discovery cannot be fully accredited to us. And it’s that truth that invites the humility we sometimes sorely lack, because an encounter with real grace can begat nothing else.

    Thanks again for the thoughts.

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