We are happy when we are weak but you are strong. We pray for this: that you will be made complete.
2 Cor 13:9
-Rev. Evan Dolive-
The old saying goes that the only things that are certain in this life are death and taxes.
While these thing are unavoidable, I would contend that another item needs to be added, change.
Change: that mystical force that lies in wait until things get settled, comfortable and normative, then it leaps out of the bushes and catches us all by surprise. These shifts in our life can be met with great strife, push back and even anger. Once I was in an electronics store and I overheard a customer complaining about her cell phone. Her phone had updated to the newest operating system and the interface was not what it used to be and she was not happy. I felt bad for the young guy who had to hear her onslaught about how she did not like the new update and all but demanded that he call the manufacturer and let them know that this was unacceptable. He tried his best to show her that things had not really changed as much as she had envisioned but it wasn’t the same.
Change had come, no one had asked her and there was nothing she could do about it.
Humanity has found comfort in being in routines, in comfortable situations because they bring comfortable, routine, expected results.
What is it about change that frightens us? What is it about change that makes us shift in our seat, that makes the hairs on the back of our neck stand up?
What about change in the church? One of the main critiques of the church is that it is antiquated and stuck in the past. While on some levels this is true but on others it is not.
Change in our personal experience while inconvenient at times is something that we generally accept and learn to live with. Have you ever been in a store where they rearranged? Sure the first few times it was difficult but you adjust. What about when the city builds new roads or intersections for better travel? The first few times driving might be a bit scary but we adjust.
When it comes to faith, change is something that we do not want to speak about or even want to entertain. We have our own understandings of the world, God and faith and thinking differently in some communities is not actively pursued or promoted. Isn’t change what we are looking for in faith? Many people come to faith as an escape or change from the previous life they were living. There was something unsatisfying, unfulfilling; they wanted to connect more, they wanted to feel more, they needed something to show them that there was a different path to take. There are so many people whose stories have been about the radical, life giving change found within the teachings and relationship with Jesus the Christ. It was not a fleeting feeling or even just one time event but it was a shockwave that was sent through their life and their being. They are not the same person after this experience. There is something that we long for when we search for something greater than ourselves, for a fuller expression of ourselves and of God.
This change starts in our souls and manifests itself in our worship, expression of faith and interaction with humanity. We can't fake this. It is something that originates deep within us.
If our faith compels us to change from the old ways we were living, change to a new way to understand Christ, why do we feel the need to stay the same?
This however is not shown in the current modern American culture.
Society tells us that change is something that comes in the bottom of wrinkle remover bottle, in a pill or through a computer program; the human form is a piece of clay that needs to be modeled into the likeness of cultural appropriateness and form. With this outlook humanity is seen less like a wonderful creation of God but something that is constant need of repair and change.
Out faith however does not mirror this sentiment. Change is possible but perfection is not.
The perfection or completeness we seek in this life is never attainable, it is a process that takes a lifetime. CS Lewis articulates this thought but extends further by stating that this perfection which only found in God is only complete when we pass on from this life.
Lewis’ sentiment is one that that I believe we as followers of Christ have all had during our faith journey. Can we find completeness in the world? No, we only find this that do not fill us the way that that Christ's mercy and love can.
Being open to the movement of God and working of the Holy Spirit allows us to more in tune to what God is up to in the world around us. The change we seek most likely will not be physically evident, rather having a change of heart, mind and spirit will overflow into our lives, ministry and work.
Paul in 2 Corinthians sums it up well when he wrote: We pray for this: that you will be made complete.
Striving for completeness in the world will leave us empty; let us find wholeness, completeness and peace in God.
Rev. Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Associate Minister of Family Life at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Longview, Texas. He earned his M.Div. from Lexington Theological Seminary. His first book Seeking Imperfection: Body Image, Marketing and God was published by the Pilgrim Press. Dolive has appeared on Headline News, Huffington Post Live, and CNN as well featured on churchleaders.com and Sojourners. He writes for various online publications as well as the Longview News Journal. Dolive is married to his high school sweetheart and has three children. Follow Rev. Evan on social media: @RevEvanDolive on Twitter and fb.com/evandoliveauthor on Facebook.