Someone whimsically reported a church put the following words from 1 Corinthians 15:51 above its nursery door: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
Change means different things to different people. And change is a part of life.
Most of us resist change. Why? Because we are comfortable, and change disrupts our comfort zone and routines. Change causes us to engage our world differently. This requires us to pay more attention and to participate anew in life, rather than running our lives on cruise control.
Change makes demands most of us would rather not address. We want to arrive at a certain station in life and then comfortably stay there. Some resist change because they desire ease. Some seek comfort, and some are just averse to extra work.
Some people in every profession do not want to learn new information, techniques or skills. They prefer to function at their current level, relying upon past knowledge, techniques or routines. For them, life merely is the regurgitation of what they already know. Change requires growth, continuous learning and work.
When is change necessary? When the old no longer is effective. When a church system does not accomplish what God desires, then it must change. When the education system does not produce results, it must change. When a construction technique cannot meet new requirements, the technique must change. When a restaurant does not attract or retain customers, then the recipes, environment, prices or service must change. When a coach’s play-calling is not working, it is pointless to run the same failing plays.
The Scripture over the nursery door points to a day when Jesus will return, and believers will be taken up to meet him. In order to meet the resurrected and glorified Christ, and to live with him forever in a flawless world, we must be changed. Our old, sinful bodies and natures would mess up a new world, just like we have messed up this world.
In order to live forever with a sinless God, we must be changed. At the return of Christ, our sinful lives will be changed into lives that no longer commit sin. Change is required before we can experience a whole new life and effectively live in that new world.
We live in a time when change is radical, frequent and necessary. Survival depends upon our willingness and ability to change to accomplish what needs to be done. We are not speaking of change for the sake of change. We are speaking of change in order to be effective in a changing world.
Employees who don’t strive to improve will be replaced by those who do. Universities that thrive will be those where professors continually learn in order to master their fields and research to contribute to their disciplines. Communities that thrive change to accommodate the needs of their citizens. Churches that thrive make the wisdom and reality of Christ relevant to the people in their communities. Effective Christians present the living Christ to others, rather than merely presenting human platitudes as though those represented Christ.
What area in your life needs to be changed, but you have been hoping it would go away so you wouldn’t have to change? What will you do about it?
Ed Jordan is pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Pocatello, Idaho.