Monday, March 3, 2014

Ideally, Change is not an Option, but the Norm

If the propositions presented in Primal Fire are at all true than there will need to be changes made in how we relate to one another and the world. Change is never an easy proposition for Christians, but I believe it should be.

The word metanoia (translated “repentance” in English versions of the New Testament) literally means “to change one’s mind.” Frankly, a Christian life without repentance is a counterfeit. The natural pattern of the Christian life is to repent and believe, to put off the old and put on the new in its place. This is not something we do just once at the beginning of our new life in Christ, but something we do at the beginning of every day...and at each day's end. If we look back over the past couple of years and cannot find that we have changed our point of view about anything, then perhaps we’re not learning and walking in the practice and pattern of an authentic Christian life—a life meant for constant renewal as we are molded progressively into the image of Christ. The gospel itself is all about transformation and change. Status quo is incompatible with the Christian life. Our faith is one of perpetual, daily change.

The sign of a true learner is not just the knowledge he or she has accumulated, but also the ideas that have been jettisoned. Sometimes the discard pile is as interesting as the growing library of new ideas. You can tell a lot about a person by what he or she has tossed aside. When someone’s point of view doesn’t change across a lifetime of education, I tend to distrust that such a person has really learned anything. Can you live your whole life listening to God and never change your point of view? I think not. That would assume that you are already right about everything and have nothing to learn or change. I cannot trust such a person.

Many people have inherited a theological framework into which they plug all new learning. If something doesn’t fit into the original paradigm, they discard it without any true consideration. This is a type of closed-mindedness that can only grow so far. Unfortunately, too many teachers and theologians are like this. I fear that often the people who have read the most and given their lives to teaching others have actually changed the least in their world view and are not learners at all. They simply look for ways to substantiate their current point of view, not challenge it. Too often our theology becomes our truth, and before long even the Bible must submit to our doctrines. We say that our faith is sola scriptura (by Scripture alone), but then we place them under submission to our theological systems. But, in truth, God’s Word stands alone and is not subject to our systems and categories.

In the church, our default settings must be changed if we are ever going to release a movement. What got us here will never lead us there. Unlearning is as important as learning for empowering the missional church. In fact, the lessons we must learn are really quite simple, but the ones we must unlearn are complex and deeply embedded in how most churches are assembled and operated. In the end, it boils down to two basic things: helping people realize what they already have and releasing them on an unsuspecting world. That is how the church is meant to function.

1 comment:

Andy Rayner said...

Was reading "Walden" this morning and this quote made me think of you blog post.... "..... it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other. Yet they honestly think there is no choice left. But alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear. It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields."

(Henry David Thoreau. Walden)