Coping with Forces of Change:
We live at a time when change is an absolute. This fact is obvious to the older and younger members of society and the church. In many ways those of the Great Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation “X,” and Generation “Y” can say that the world we now live in is not the world they were brought up in. For those who are members of the church, they can say the same thing about our faith communities.
We can choose to deal with change in many different ways. The first tactic that comes to our minds is to close our eyes. Denial is a legitimate coping skill. It can often buy us time and give us space until we get to a place where we can adopt another tactic.
Resistance is also a tried and true method of dealing with the changes around us. We can say that we recognize that things seem to be changing, but we are going to draw a line in the sand. Often that arbitrary line gets confused with foundational principles. Once this happens – and our feet get all tangled up in it – moving from one position to another becomes very difficult.
A third way of dealing with change is to acquiesce. Giving in can seem to be the easiest way to deal with the forces of change that seem much bigger than ourselves. The problem is that sooner or later an inner voice tells us that we have sold ourselves short.
There is one final approach that we can use in dealing with what might seem like the shifting sands of our world. That is the tactic of “faithfulness.” We can strive to be faithful in the midst of change. This approach requires that we use all the faculties God has given us; our formation in the faith, the scriptures, the traditions, and informed reason to discern God’s will in each of the challenges before us. This tactic calls for full and honest engagement.
To be faithfully in our age of rapid change in the church and our secular society we need to be courageously open and honest in how we approach what is being transformed around us. Instead of avoiding that idea, position or person we perceive to be so different from ourselves, we are called to enter into a dialog. The object of this dialog is not to change the other, but to gain an understanding.
What I hope we will discover through this understanding of the other is a way to be faithful to our God and faith communities in the midst of great currents of change. We are not the first Christians to find ourselves in such a place. The apostle Paul is an excellent example of one who struggled with the dynamics of cultural and political change in his day. Let’s pray that God leads us to a faithful way of walking “The Way” in this place, time, and cultural environment.