Tag Archives: Growth

Frozen in fear

I have been accused in the past of having high expectations of people.    That I think they are capable of more then they actually are.  I’ve been told that I should just accept that some things won’t change.  I doubt God endorses this philosophy as God is constantly pushing people to change, to be better and to trust him.  This is seen time and again in the Bible and in our own lives if we’re honest.  God wants good things for people, for all people and that rarely lets anyone off the hook when it comes to change.

I think this is why I get so frustrated with the church.  Presbyterians in particular are notorious for halting any hint of change with debate and discussion.  We table absolutely everything.  We claim we are waiting on the Holy Spirit but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is dancing about in the room and no one is willing to see it. We are afraid of doing anything for fear that it might be wrong or it won’t work.

This fear is killing us.  It’s paralyzed us.  We aren’t doing anything for fear of offending or losing people.  We do this delicate dance around this issue of change and growth.  We never want to talk about what needs to be done because we are afraid.  In my reading this week I came across a passage in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the people of God that God is always with them.  That God in fact goes before them:

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 NRSV

We need to remember that God is going before us.  Our trust should be in God, not our processes.  We need to accept that movement is part of faith.  Movement and change are built into our history.  There is only one constant, God.  That constant is the thing we should cling to.  We need to push through the fear we feel.  God has moved on and is expecting us to catch up.  It’s time to let go of our attachments to what we know and move forward into the unknown believing that God will provide.

Do you think that’s possible?
Will we find the courage to follow God into a new {different} life?

Moving from selfish to selfless

When I went to the bookstore last week to get some spiritual reading, I noticed that most of the books were about self-improvement.  The titles ran together as I founds books that promised to teach me how to pray better, lose weight God’s way and become a better Christian/Spouse/insert occupation here.  These all sounds like good things, right? We should want to improve and draw closer to God. We should want to be really good Christians.

That phrase, “we want” is prevalent in Christian Culture.  I often say it myself on Sunday “Lord, we want to be better people” or “Lord, we want to become the Church you want us to be”.  I’m sure we do want that, I do anyways.  But are we doing anything?  Are we working to make our ‘wants’ happen? What is our motive and primary objective with all this talk of self-improvement?

To be a Christian is often defined as being a believer in Jesus but it goes beyond that.  In order for us to truly be ‘Christian’ we must follow him and his teachings.  Theoretically I could believe what Jesus said but never put it into practice.  This isn’t really a Christ-centred life. Before Jesus left he gave us two tasks as his followers.  He said:

  1. Go make disciples.
  2. Teach them everything I’ve taught to you.

This might seem like a simple summary of Matthew 28:16-20, but that is our task as set out by Jesus.  We are told to go make disciples. We are to teach them the message.  That’s our job description in a nutshell.  Are we doing this?  Are we doing what Jesus asked of us?

In my own Church numbers are dwindling daily.  Presbyterianism is far from the coolest thing out there and we struggle with change.  We are opposed to it, afraid of it and it’s glaringly apparent to anyone new who enters the doors that there is an unsettled feeling among us. Some of us cannot conceive of a future that is different from what we know.  There is panic in our midst.

This panic is perhaps the thing I find most challenging about ministering in our time. We have entered a period where change is viewed as the enemy and we feel we must hold firm to what we know.  We make fun of other styles and structures.  We think that we have all the answers.

I know that not all change is good. Change for the sake of change brings trouble and there are some things we must hold firm to {the Gospel for example}.  The trouble is, we are holding firm to things that are not Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that worship must be a certain style or we must belong to one denomination.  Christianity is messy because it’s filled with people.  The rules and structure that are in place are there to help us understand and worship in our time.  Our worship service should be reflective of the work, mission and needs of the community it serves.

What the Bible does say is fairly simple.  Go out into the world and make disciples.  Baptize and teach.  Do it again, and again. Jesus doesn’t say how, he just says do it.  So we must.  We must do it.  How we do that depends on many things, and there is no one size fits all answer.

Personally I am comfortable worshipping in many formats.  I love a good old fashioned worship service.  I like the energy a contemporary service brings.  I love the buzz that modern worship brings with it’s sense of new possibilities.  All of these forms are authentic and meaningful to the people they reach.  All of them are needed and should be valued.  Each has a place in the Christian community.

I wonder if we are ready to move from selfish to selfless?  We are clinging to what we know and what we love at the expense of the mission and ministry of the Church.  We need to be willing to share the message.  We must move beyond ourselves.  We have to be willing to take risks {both personally and as a group of followers}.   There needs to be the willingness to change even if we, ourselves are not called into it.

Maybe once we’re willing to take risks and start thinking creatively we will see a new path and be given a new vision.  When we limit ourselves and fail to carry out the message we shut out God’s voice and prevent the fulfillment of our mission here on earth.   It seems to me that we need to move out into the world and introduce ourselves once more.  We should start doing what Jesus asked us to do.