Jesus met with Nicodemus in the night, a relationally broken woman at a Samaritan well, and Matthew at a party thrown for tax collectors. He befriended prostitutes, recruited zealots, and pronounced forgiveness for known adulterers. God, in Christ, has definitely demonstrated his willingness to go to the gutters of society to change the lives of sinners by his truth and grace.
We like change that directly benefits us – a job promotion, a new home, marrying our dream mate, etc. But we’re terrified of change that threatens our sense of stability, security, or significance. Having been a Pastor for eighteen years now, I’ve seen my share of missed opportunities for new, fresh growth resulting from the fear of taking risks that might cost our comfort.
The “Dones.” It’s a term sociologists and researchers use to describe those who are done with church. The Dones were once part of a church, but have become disillusioned for a variety of reasons and have decided to be spiritual without the help of a local congregation. And the Dones are growing in number.
Not all change leads to growth, obviously, but growth never happens without change. So leadership is, in large part, motivating and organizing a group of people to change and grow. But… nobody likes change. Even people who say they like change don’t like it naturally. They’ve just developed a good attitude about embracing it.
In today’s world, meekness = weakness. God does not view it that way, however. The Bible says of Moses,”Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) And in a world where power is everything, Jesus entered the scene in a wooden manger surrounded by barnyard animals. He grew up in an humble village, the son of a carpenter, of modest means. He lived His life serving others, yet Jesus was certainly the most influential leader in all of history.
I love that part of the story of the early church in which God allows persecution to scatter the Christians from Jerusalem like ants. The Bible says that everywhere they went, they preached the gospel (see Acts chapter 8). Phillip, in particular, headed to a city in Samaria and became the earliest cross-cultural missionary. When he preached there, the citizens listened and embraced Jesus. The Bible sums it up by saying, “So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:8 NLT)
The Protestant Reformation’s beginning is usually marked by the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. He began the document with these words,
Movement is life.
I recently watched the blockbuster hit, World War Z. I had been anticipating it for a long time, and it didn’t fail to impress me with it’s non-stop intensity starting two minutes in and not ending until the credits roll.
You are where you are because you have followed a path. You’ve made a series of choices that have brought you to your current spot on life’s map, and the Bible lets us know that our default direction is always down the wrong path.
Tony Morgan has released some pretty great books, many of which are available as free ebooks (which are actually books, but with an “e”). He’s just released a new follow-up book and it’s well worth checking out. Here’s his description: