Let us continue giving thanks long after Thanksgiving Day has past. I am thankful for my husband Doug: his love for me and our children, his faith, and for his ability as a teacher of God’s Word. Today I reprint an article he wrote a few years ago for the Holland Church of Christ newsletter The Open Door.
HOW MY MIND HAS CHANGED AND HOW IT HAS STAYED THE SAME
“To change or not to change, that is the question.”
Change has swept over the world, and the church, like huge waves in recent decades. This is always the case, but the speed of change has been accelerating and makes it harder to calibrate our lives. To not change is to stagnate, possibly even to die in some senses. To change constantly is to be fickle, or unstable. Gary Hamel speaks of it like this: “After 13.4 billion years, the pace of change has gone hypercritical—at least on this planet. We didn’t ask for this, but we have to deal with it. Today we live in a world that seems to be all punctuation and no equilibrium, where the future is less and less an extrapolation of the past.”
Once every ten years, the Christian Century invites Christian thinkers and teachers to compare and reflect on how their mind has changed regarding Biblical ideas and issues. So, I invite you to consider a few personal reflections on this. I am adding a variation with it: How My Mind Has Stayed The Same.
How My Mind Has Changed
- My first Bible version was the KJV, and now I prefer the NIV for public reading. I changed my mind after learning about the Biblical languages, about how our language changes over time, and the art and science of translation. Consulting multiple versions is very useful in Bible reading.
- In the early days of my Bible study and reading, I believed that the apostle Paul wrote Hebrews, now I am certain he did not. After a careful reading of Hebrews 2:3, we must conclude that this is a statement the apostle Paul would never make, having received his commission directly from Jesus. A small thing, but significant in both learning how to listen to be humble and open before God’s word and say, “perhaps”, “maybe”, “I don’t know”, and “I was mistaken”.
- My mind has changed in assuming (always a risk!) what believers, or unbelievers for that matter, understood about God’s Word and God’s story. There are lots of notions out there floating around and people begin to believe them whether they are true or not, or whether they have any real basis in Scripture. Also, the people who study such things about our culture and the habits of Christians say about 70% of BELIEVERS in North America do not regularly read God’s Word!
- When I first read 1 Corinthians 11:29-30:34, where Paul writes that some at Corinth, because of their disregard of one another and the Lord’s Supper, have actually died (fallen asleep is the translation) as a result of these attitudes and behaviors. My rational, reasonable, Western modern mind had a hard time believing God would take someone’s life for such a thing. Then I remembered Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Whatever that Corinthian text finally means, it made me reflect that God is much greater and holier than I understood. His thoughts are not my thoughts! And He will do whatever He wants!
How It Has Stayed The Same
- In spite of all our incredible advances in science and technology, the Human Condition is still sinful. With all the great changes and progress the modern world has brought us, the essential human tendencies to selfishness, greed, lust, and power have not changed. Also, though we wish it were not so, whatever sin can be found “in the world” can be found “in the church” all the people in the church have come out of the world and are still in it while no longer of it. The process of sanctification—being made holy and set apart for God’s purpose—addresses this in an ongoing manner. The Good News of what God has done in Christ is still the answer to the Human Condition, which is still sinful.
- The contest with idols and paganism is as real and critical in our day and time as it was when Israel made the Golden calf in the wilderness and the prophets mocked the nations for the worship of wood and stone. The decision today is the same: will I believe in the one true, living, invisible God or recreate Him in my image?
- Though lots of people do not care much for grammar, history, and theology, they are still vital to our best understanding of the Word and help guard against distortions of the Biblical story.
- While there is still a great need for the Proclamation of the Word, and the Explanation of the Word, it seems the greatest need is for Application in our lives.
- The Cross of Christ is God’s way of turning an upside down world right side up, though the world sees it the other way.
My prayer is that in Christ our mind has changed and it has stayed the same, where it needed it most.
“In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Hebrews 1:10-12.
[The Open Door. October –December 2009. Issue 08.]