I Like Same, Not Change

“Any change, at any time, for any reason, is to
be deplored.” So stated the Duke of Cambridge
in the late 1800’s.

The duke quoted above is not alone in expressing this sentiment. A few years ago, while one of our children was down for his afternoon nap, my industrious wife decided to rearrange the living room. A couple of hours later as he emerged from the hallway and saw everything repositioned, he stopped in his tracks and exclaimed, “I like same, not change!” You would have thought his whole world was turned upside down.

Concerning this aversion to change one person has commented, “Nothing is ever done until everyone is convinced that it ought to be done, and has been convinced for so long that it is now time to do something else.” Perhaps the words from about 100 years ago of the clerk of Abington Presbytery near Philadelphia express it best. He said, “Lord, help us to be right, for you know how hard it is to change.”

Jesus often advocated change. When His disciples brought their quest for kingdom prominence to Him, He forthrightly declared, “…Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Additionally, following His wilderness temptation, Jesus “began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:17) In Vine’s Expository Dictionary we are told the Greek word for repent (MATANOEŌ) means “to change one’s mind or purpose, always, in the New Testament, involving a change for the better.” The continuing necessity of change lies at the heart of our relationship with Christ and is a key ingredient of repentance.

There is, however, need for caution. Not all change is permissible or advisable. Indeed, in contradistinction to all other rationale, if a principle or practice is God-ordained it is not within human prerogative to change it. On the other hand, if a matter is of human origin we are at liberty to change it. We must exercise caution, though. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is not best to swap horses while crossing the stream.” In an era that has seen and continues to see more change in less time than ever before, we must keep these ideas in mind.

Still, we are daily faced with the need for change, individually and corporately. With respect to our walk with the Lord: If we are growing we are changing. If we are not changing, we are not growing. Thus, resistance to change in this regard results in spiritual atrophy. Relative to the sin which so easily entangles us, we recall that repentance requires change. Resistance to change in this instance also results in spiritual weakness. Clearly, walking towards Christ and away from the world is a process which requires change.

Baskets full of books have been written on the dynamics of change. So, all the bases cannot be covered in this short article. However, considering the congregational impact of change, there are two additional factors which need to be addressed.

#1) Beneficial change requires effort— According to Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it.” Jesus’ preaching was an impressive force which evoked change in the lives of many. The first century church was an impressive force which went everywhere preaching the word, eventually changing the world. So, whether we are talking about the change needed for our lives to develop a missional focus or to be more effective evangelistically or changing the décor of the foyer, much effort is required.

#2) Beneficial change requires patience— A fundamental function of the body of Christ is fostering spiritual growth in one another’s lives. We are to help one another become more Christ-like. (See: Ephesians 4:11-16.) Tragically, many become frustrated in this process and give up on trying. Thankfully, God does not give up on us, right? Thomas Kempis speaks to this point: “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” As we think about helping one another grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, we should stop often to consider just how patient God is with each one of us.

© Bill Williams

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
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11 Responses to I Like Same, Not Change

  1. Donna says:

    effort, patience, change…

    sometimes the three words don’t coexist to well…

    When you are putting for the effort it is often hard to be patient….at least for those of us who truly desire change.

  2. Lisa says:

    Great post. I have lots of ideas about how I need to change, how the church needs to change, etc., etc. The hardest part is getting started.

    You can just feel the frustration sometimes at church committee meetings when change is desired but it’s not happening fast enough. You make a great point that patience is required.

  3. Trey Morgan says:

    Bill … I always have to remind myself that change (especially in a rural town) comes slow. You also want to take it slow for those unwilling to change. Change is like turning a big oceanliner … it takes 17 miles to change one and it’s often so gradual that know one knows it has turned. Patience, I could use a little of that.

  4. Bill says:

    Thanks to all for adding your thoughts to this discussion. Years ago, while studying at the Sunset International Bible Institute, one of our instructors often repeated his motto with respect to implementing change. He would say: Hurry slowly.

    I think he is correct, generally speaking. However, I’ve concluded that there are times when immediate change is necessary. In my experience, this is most evident when it comes to things that pertain to our teenagers. So much is happening in their lives in such a short period of time. When it comes to addressing the needs and issues that arise in the lives of our teens, taking action last week probably wouldn’t be too soon.

    Blessings to all,
    -bill

  5. Neva Cooper says:

    Good post, Bill
    My biggest problem with change is that sometimes we are changing to be like everyone else. God always wanted His people to be different. We are to be an everchanging, but always distinct people.
    good post.

    Peace,
    Neva

  6. John Roberts says:

    Great thoughts – I’m assuming #3,4,5, etc. are coming? I love continuity and predictablility. I like to feel competent doing the things I know how to do. But change in your surroundings demands you grow and change with them or end up an irrelevant relic from the past.

  7. Kathy says:

    He would say: Hurry slowly.

    Sounds as though he’s spent some time in Spanish language countries where he’d heard, Despacio! Tengo prisa! (Slow down, I’m in a hurry.)

    At my age change is thrilling. We of my generation have little time to slow down, to wait for the so needed changes. So, you may find that the least patient with slowness to accept change comes from the the elder members of your congregations. We’ve waited long enough, at least speaking for myself, that is. 🙂

    Seriously, it does thrill me to see the changes in the ship of ‘church’ being brought about by our younger generations. The shift from “church-ians” to “Jesus-ians” is truly thrilling.

    We’re experiencing a wildly swinging pendulum;

    We’ve always done it that way+—————————+the way
    we WANT to do things now!

    [very poor attempt at graphics, but you get the idea. LOL]

    One example of many is:

    Young people want to abandon the stone and brick churches, attending hands on to the broken and needy within the small house church framework. The other extreme is holding on for dear life to the stone and brick structure. Both can be Jesus glorifying.

    The house church work, imho, needs the larger group for financial support, resources, teaching and training. The Stone/bricks need the house churches to demonstrate again how Jesus ministered, hands on, in their midst.

    We need both. It will take a few years for the pendulum to settle somewhere in the middle, melding the best of the two extremes, but in the meantime, we have growing pains, and very painful they are too.

    May we experience many more God-glorifying growing pains!!

  8. Greg England says:

    In my very limited experience, and speaking mainly of changes within the church, we’d decided generations ago that we were right. Not only right, but right on every issue religious so why change?? To change was to admit the possibility of having been wrong. So we abhored changed. And, for the most part, continute to abhore it. Many years ago I attended a seminar hosted by Rick Warren (long before he was anyone … just a preacher who saw his church explode in growth and trying to manage it) down in San Diego. One comment from that week-long seminar has stayed in my memory. He said with that many people changing was always a huge issue, so they would often change things that were not necessary so that when a change was necessary, they could change. That gave me a new perspective on the old attitude that warns against “change for change’s sake.”

    Good post.

  9. Kathy says:

    I think fickleness has a part to play with slow change. People do go back and forth on the pendulum of extremes. If they would pick a place and just start moving in a direction toward God, maybe actual changes would happen faster and be more beneficial.
    I enjoy your blog and the comments!

  10. brian says:

    I have been reading a kierkegaard bio and in his early days he argued against the progressive politics of his day, pointing out that everyone would get more excited about unproven unknown stuff, just because it was new.

    some things never change

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