In our last two blog posts we looked at the need for change if our church is to be revitalized and experience growth. But why keep talking about change when the Scriptures speak of an unchanging God who is the same yesterday, today and forever? Isn’t God an unchanging reality who never changes? Surely, if God doesn’t change then neither should we. While this thinking seems reasonable it is also deeply mistaken. Yes, God is unchanging, but the world in which the church exists and into which we are sent is in constant change and we must change along with it if we want to be faithful witnesses and reach it for Jesus. What we need to do is to speak of an unchanging God who changes everything. We need a biblical theology of change.
In fact, the Bible can be understood as a book about change. From the very beginning of the biblical story, we meet a God who calls people again and again to change so they can fulfill God’s purposes. So God calls Abraham to leave everything he knows and to step into a promised better future. God asks him to change from the known, predictable and comfortable to the unknown, the unpredictable and the uncomfortable. To trust God and be willing to make the changes God is calling him to make for the privilege of being part of God’s plan for the whole world. Abraham is called to a life of radical change. From Moses to David, and Elijah to Jeremiah, the same story is repeated. God’s call to change in order to follow an unchanging God who changes everything.
In the New Testament, the church is born out of change and lives as a symbol of radical change. In the book of Acts, people are called to deep change as they are converted, sanctified and transformed. The church explodes as thousands of changed people join it and become agents of change and transformation. The church changes, adapts and grows as it moves forward spreading out throughout the ancient world. Individuals are changed, families are changed, marriages are changed, communities are changed. Ultimately, the entire world and all of history is radically changed as all people are swept up in God’s loving purposes.
A biblical theology of change tells us that God calls us to change in order to obey him and fulfill his purposes. Our willingness to change not only impacts individuals, communities, our world and history itself. It also impacts eternity. God calls us to be changed, to embrace change and to be agents of change. As we move forward with our church revitalization, change is inevitable and some of it will be difficult and uncomfortable. However, as we go through this change let us remember to hold firm to the unchanging God who changes everything and everyone.