Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Reality of Change

Change is a word laden with negative connotations for many of us.  We often fear change, but change is a part of life.  We find a new job or calling, we move to a new town or house, we experience sickness, we have children and they grow up and move out (or move back in).  In life, nothing is static.  Change is inevitable.  Change is a sign of life.

The Bible recognizes this, for it abounds with metaphors related to change and growth.  When Jesus tells his disciples, “"I am the Vine, you are the branches,” (John 15:5), he is using a metaphor related to change.  A vine is a living thing—it changes and grows or it dies.

William Bridges wrote that it is not that people don’t like change; they just don’t like being changed.  Perhaps that is where the anxiety comes.  As a part of the environment in which we find ourselves, if things around us change then a healthy person finds a way to adjust and find stability. The alternative is to give into dysfunctional behavior such as anger or denial.

Although we can control things around us to some extent, there are often circumstances over which we have no control.  Learning to adapt to change doesn’t mean that we give up our identity, beliefs, or values, but it may mean that we must change our habits, lifestyles, or schedules in order to find balance. 

My experience with churches testifies to the difficulty that church members have with change.  Although we may see God as unchangeable, little else is.  We forget that buildings deteriorate, worship styles adapt, leaders come and go, and programs outlive their usefulness.

Perhaps the problem is that we are seeking stability in the wrong places—externally rather than internally.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  (Matthew 24:35, NIV).  Change is inevitable—except for what is really important.