Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Old and the New

Sometimes we can be like the people of Athens, always eager to learn or to hear any new thing. Or we can be like the Pharisees, holding on to tradition no matter what. Often in the Christian church we can find both types of people in the same congregation. Not infrequently one is the leadership and the other is the rank and file. Which leads to any number of church fights. Is there a way to avoid this?

Now Christ is at work building His church (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:15,16; Colossians 2:19). But this does not by itself answer the question of new versus old. However, it does put it in perspective. For it helps remove the panic factor. We are not forced to desperately look for the next new thing through fear that we might miss the only opportunity to genuinely forward God's work. Or we may be afraid to allow change for fear we might lose our hold on where God wants us to be. But if we can trust God (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 37:3-6), who is in control of our lives (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 43:13), it gives us a new attitude.

Now it is not always clear in every case whether the old or the new is the better choice. But if we trust God, it will help us to calmly consider which is better. And it will steer us away from the superficial gimmicks that are pitched as the panaceas that will solve all our problems. We will also avoid clinging for dear life to something that is seen as valuable simply because it has always been done that way. But if we are confident God is in control, we can face these decisions with calmness. There are things that are passed down from generation to generation because they are genuinely valuable, but other meaningless or currently irrelevant things that are preserved by sheer inertia. There are wonderful new ideas that can help us carry out God's work in the world today, but there are also momentary, passing trends that will vanish tomorrow, leaving nothing but confusion in their wake. We do not need to jump on the train of every fad that might come along to offer itself as the solution to all our problems. Nor do we have to hide in the closet and lock the door to hide from even the most minor of changes. But we can carefully consider whether the new or the old is better because we have confidence that God is in control of our lives and will guide them the way He wants them to go.    

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