Change is hard sometimes.
Most people like to remain consistent. They like to know what is for breakfast before going to bed. They schedule meetings months in advance. They stick to a meticulous hour to hour, or even minute to minute daily schedule.
I am not one of these people.
I would say I pretty regularly fly by the seat of my pants. I am guided by what I feel is supposed to happen throughout the course of the day. Mind you, I am not entirely an aimless wanderer, I am a pioneer. I am passionate about advancing the Kingdom of God, and I take the word “advancing” seriously - as if the calling to go out and preach the gospel to all nations is a legitimate job title, not just a romanticized historic fiction novel. No, the word of God is living and breathing, and brings people to life.
That being said, when life hits us hard, oftentimes change becomes necessary for growth and health. And yet, as a culture of believers, we find ourselves holding onto normalcy with closed hands. There is a fine line between following Jesus and following religion. So how do we find the kingdom principle in change?
Before I go any further, I would like to point out something that continually challenges me. Oftentimes in charismatic circles, I hear the phrase “You are doing a new thing,” or “Do a new thing God.” This phrase is beautiful and flows perfectly with Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” When we dig deeper, we recognize that the Lord is speaking of progression. In the verse directly before the one mentioned above, the Holy Spirit reminds us to “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Isaiah 43:18. If we are not careful, instead of following the Lord in His progression, we hunger and strive for the new thing. Emotionalism puts more trust on the encounter than on the Maker of the universe. Through change we need to remember that God is simply just doing the next thing. He is, by His very nature, Creator God! He makes all things new. Be weary of putting too much emphasis on the new thing and not on Jesus, the Maker of ALL things.
Change comes in all different shapes and sizes. Immediate changes happen in the moment. They oftentimes feel much more impactful, but then the effect wears off. Gradual changes, on the contrary, take time and planning. They have a slower timeframe and are less immediate, but the effect lingers and grows. Pruning is a drastic change, whereas gardening, in its entirety, is gradual.
Determining what type of change needs to happen is always in response to something that has happened or is going to happen. For instance, if X happens, then we have to do Y to make Z, the better X. Y, in this instance is the change. You will notice something about change in the equation above. The choice of how to change always has an effect on the original situation, person, place, or thing. That is the most important thing to take into consideration when making a change. Change impacts everyone differently, which is why when change becomes an option, the outcome needs to be considered in light of the change itself!
As an example, consider your life. According to scripture, your X starting point is death. We are all X in death. Christ is our Y. Christ Y’s everything! Because of the change, we now go from death to life, from X to Z. What is the most important part of the equation? Is it X, Y, or Z? Y! How change happens is the most important thing to consider in any situation.
As a leader, making changes makes or breaks how people trust you. If you make a change poorly, people may not trust you to change again. Or, they may consider that the next change you make will look exactly like the last one. Making changes oftentimes makes a much greater impact than originally anticipated.
Change is hard sometimes.
That is why when we need to make a change, we must lean on Jesus and trust in Him. At the end of the day, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. That is not an excuse to do whatever we want or make haphazard changes whenever we want. It is the failsafe. It is the reminder that God has our best interest at heart. His very nature is to love because He is love! “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. Jesus is consistent to ease our changes. He is the place to lean to make the decision, and the place to lean when a decision is made! He continually reminds us that He will not leave us or forsake us. When we make good changes and bad changes, He stays the same.
In order for the Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven,” things need to change! Scripture tells us that Christ stays the same. That means something has to change for the Kingdom of God to come! And if it isn’t Jesus, who is it going to be?