By David Faust
As relocations go, moving 118 miles wasn’t a big deal, but the transition required a surprising number of adjustments. I now have a new home address, e-mail address, and phone number; a new zip code, area code, and garage door code; new neighbors, doctor, and dentist. The tap water tastes different. I had to change my car’s preset radio channels because the old ones played nothing but static.
Some individuals resist change; others welcome it. Yet all of us must deal with it. Churches go through changes in staff, music, and congregational culture. How should we handle it when circumstances beyond our control stretch our capacity for change?
Communication is key. People are down on what they’re not up on. I never get carsick when I’m the one driving, but I feel queasy when I sit in the backseat and someone else drives. Likewise, it’s easier to adapt to change when you can see the curves and bumps ahead. The apostle Peter communicated well. He wrote his first letter to encourage believers living as aliens in a hostile culture to stand firm in God’s grace (1 Peter 5:10-12). Later he wrote a second letter to help his readers withstand false teachers who threatened their spiritual health (2 Peter 2). In changing times, Peter didn’t leave God’s people in the dark.
Trust makes change easier. Peter’s message flowed from a loving heart. As “a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 5:1), he addressed his readers as dear friends who had “received a faith as precious as ours” (2 Peter 1:1). Clear, forthright explanations help followers embrace leadership decisions, but at some point we must simply trust our leaders and trust God to help us stay on track. This is easier to do when leaders build a track record of godly wisdom and humble service (1 Peter 5:2-4).
Molehills aren’t mountains. First-century believers faced “all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6) including ridicule, imprisonment, and death. By comparison, most changes I experience are minor inconveniences. I dare not complain about the taste of my tap water when many individuals around the world have no clean water at all. Nor should I gripe about finding a new doctor when millions in remote villages and crowded cities exist without quality medical care. For the gospel’s sake missionaries move thousands of miles from home. They experience more cultural discomfort in a day than I do in a year, and they take it in stride. Before grumbling too loudly about something that displeased me at church last Sunday, I should thank the Lord that I am free to worship publicly at all.
God doesn’t change. He remains “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ” (1 Peter 5:10). His divine power provides “everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3). The steady voice of holy Scripture tells us “the prophetic message as something completely reliable,” for the Bible was written by individuals who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19, 21).
I’ve heard it said that Christians are flowing with the times but anchored to the Rock. That’s a good approach to take when change comes—even as an unwelcome guest.
1. What changes are you currently experiencing in your life?
2. What have you learned from making changes in the past?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for November 2, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 Peter 5:8–14
Song of Solomon 8:8–14
Lamentations 4, 5
2 Peter 1:1–11
2 Peter 1:12–21
2 Peter 2:1–9
2 Peter 2:10–16