Transformation: Stepping Forward (June 2021)
Updated: Aug 24
“One day or day one. You decide.” Unknown
We are surrounded by a world of change and the reality is, for many of us, we would rather others would change so that we may remain the same! But the world doesn’t work that way. In fact we are the beneficiaries of those who came before us who were willing to change and push new boundaries (science, technology, thought, arts, etc.).
There are many motives for change, but they largely fall into three categories: security, significance and acceptance. We have seen this prominently over the last couple of years as the entire human population has had to deal with change for the sake of personal and public health. We have also seen what we put our trust in and where we find our significance severely strained. The conclusion is that relationships and being connected are more important than personal gain; connected with this we have seen a change in how we value time and our use of it. It turns out that not all change is bad!
We have seen firsthand two attitudes to change (or something new): we can resist it, or we can embrace it. The picture is of dipping the toe or jumping in with two feet! I have noticed that as my boys have learned to swim, they have gone from sitting on the side with a look of fear and distrust, to jumping in with a scream of delight! What changed? Simply they came to realise that, not only is swimming fun, but they can do new things. Sometimes these new things take practice. If you don’t believe me, just observe a young child and their willingness to try new things. Yes, they need encouragement, but when they realise their fears were misplaced, there is a joy and delight which can be infectious!
When we look at the arc of human engagement with God, through the lens of the Bible, we see every interaction with God bringing change and transformation. Whether it was Abraham leaving the comfort of his inheritance and family to go to a new place; Moses responding to the call which took him into the bear-pit of the Egyptian court; King David’s complete trust of God, even in heartbreaking situations and against incredible odds. The one thing that all these accounts have in common is that God sought people out, demonstrated he wanted a real and deep relationship with them; he asked them to trust him and let Him lead them to a new place.
Perhaps my favourite story of God leading people into change is the account of Joshua, who became the leader of the people of Israel after Moses. Not only did he have huge shoes (sandals!) to fill but he was cast into leadership at ‘the’ moment when God was seeking to fulfill his promise of deliverance and blessing. Gathered on the border of the promised land, God meets with Joshua and tells him to take courage, be strong, the LORD is with him! Joshua and the people had a choice. They could remain where they were (and some were tempted to leave!), or they could decide to pull up their tent-pegs and follow in the direction God had for them. They chose to pull up their tent-pegs; they chose to follow God. The result was blessing.
Whether you are a Christian, or looking in on Christian things, we all have a choice. Do we want to live ‘my way’ or God’s way? There is not a single instance in the Bible when God’s people are told to sit still or look back. The entire narrative of the Bible is forward focused; it is the image of being on a journey, being on the move, drawn closer to God. Similarly, the image of the church is of Jesus as its head, leading the way. At times it is tempting to sit down, get comfortable and look back. But we shouldn’t be deterred if the path isn’t always clear. As Martin Luther King Jr quipped, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life”. The invitation is for us to follow his way, let him determine truth and lead us to real life. We have a loving and generous God who put our needs first and demonstrated real love. Will we pull up the tent-pegs that are holding us back and allow him to lead us? Some in the church will be familiar with the word ‘sanctification’. It is allowing God to constantly transform us into his way. It means that we need to constantly remove the pegs that hold us back. Our community and church need to be open to being transformed by our living, loving God. Transformation is at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer… ‘Your Kingdom Come; Your will be done’.
This is not a new, modern, or radical idea. Transformation has always been how church should be. Therefore, as a church we want to be a place for all people to belong and reflect the generosity and love of God. This means we are open to being transformed and led by Him and let him define security, significance and acceptance.
I am encouraged by some of the new things that have started at Padstow Church, the mixture of regulars and new people joining us. If you would like to get involved, please do get in touch. We have much to look forward to!