I got the speech.
As soon as I arrived home after work, Lori took one look at me and said, “You wore that again? You have a closet full of clothes but wear the same outfits week after week. What is wrong with you?”
Maybe it has to do with the trauma I experienced when I lost my steelies in a game of marbles in the first grade. Or maybe I am still suffering from the effects of bed-wetting at the age of nine. Perhaps it has to do with the rejection I experienced being picked last for dodge ball in high school? Or maybe it is simply a matter of having eaten too much salami for too many years?
Maybe I need psychotherapy? Spiritual warfare? A class in wardrobe-management? How about a sabbatical? Whatever it is, change does not come easily to me. I gravitate toward the familiar, I get stuck in ruts.
I am in good company, though.
The Apostle Peter had an aversion to change as well. He was stuck on sameness, and the Lord had to shake him up.
In Acts 10 while praying, Peter had a vision of a sheet dropping down from heaven with a bunch of pigs, lobsters, shrimp, rabbits, bats, and snakes on it. He was told to pull up a chair and have dinner. He promptly declined. (I can understand not wanting to eat bats and snakes.)
Two things stand out to me—the immediacy of Peter’s response and the reason behind his response. First, Peter’s “No!” was instantaneous, knee-jerk. He gave no thought to the command given him. No hesitation, no deliberation. Just a flat-out rejection.
Second, note the rationale behind his refusal. He appeals to his personal history: “Nothing unclean has ever entered my mouth.” He was, in effect, saying, “I’ve never done it that way and I don’t intend to change.”
This scene played out three times and, each time, Peter gave the same response. Peter learned later that God was wanting him to let go of some of his long-held prejudices against Gentiles. God was doing a new thing and wanted Peter to join Him.
This lesson did not come easily to Peter. No surprise. Sacred cows never die without a fight. Peter was accustomed to seeing things one way, but God wanted to enlarge his vision. Peter needed to make room for more of God’s wonderful—but messy—grace in his life.
I do not want to get old and crusty, set in my ways. I want to remain open and flexible to the many ways God moves in this world. And I want that for Life Challenge as well. Organizations which refuse to change or change too late…die.
Our message cannot change. It is and will always be “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (see 1 Cor. 2:2). But the ways in which we present and deliver this message must be fluid. People change. Like the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “You never step into the same river twice.”
One of the major points of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees had to do with change. The Pharisees were entrenched in the past. Tradition had become their god. They were unwilling to embrace new ideas and practices. In challenging many of their deepest assumptions, Jesus made it clear that new wine needs new wine skins (Mk. 2:22).
Change for the sake of change is foolish. Change for the sake of advancing the gospel is both wise and loving.
At Life Challenge, we appreciate and respect the vehicles and methods God has used in the past to advance His kingdom. But we do not want to restrict or limit in any way the new and fresh things God desires to do in our midst by outdated structures and ideologies. We are open to God, His ways, His people, His timing,…His grace.
Old outfits may be comfortable, but they are not becoming after a while—just ask my wife.
Hi Brother Jeff,
Just wanted you to know that God has been very faithful in my life and has granted me a new beginnning fromm 2003 at your ministry.
Continue the work of God, in the Grace of Christ our Savior.
Lawrence E. Kwapich
Resident from 2004 – 2005
When I was a student I often wondered why Brother Bob Carey wore the same blue blazer for every service. I knew he could get access to more clothing. But he was then, like now, ultra consistent. And I have come to admire that.
The funny thing is, I wear the same clothing all the time now. And this is from one of the students who was always in the G.Q. Crew. lol
…….. and the things of earth grow strangely dim
Hey Julie, Appreciate your encouragement. Jesus is the ultimate example of one who embraced change–from heavenly status to earthly existence–all for the sake of love. That’s what empowers change . . . LOVE! Peace, Jeff
Take the sabbatical. Don’t worry the district has got you covered for your “Sunday preaching.”
Jeff…this is SO good…I am in the midst of making some changes and human nature sure is human nature. Lord…help us to remember it is YOUR nature we embrace.
I think that when we continue to do the same thing ,the same way making the same mistakes expecting different results is a form of insanity. Change is good
Pastor Jeff, great insight…reveals how I sometimes cling to past “known to work” ideas and the “we have always done it this way” mentality, (at my own peril)
Right on. Also, loved seeing the picture Is this current? Looking good. Mom.
Hey Mom! The pic . . . no . . . from the archives. My editor decided to poke a little fun of me too!
Thanks Steve. That is why we need to expose ourselves to different people, books, and events–even an alternative way to work sometimes (although your options at this point are a bit limited!). Peace