Monday, April 11, 2011

Change, change, and more change

Change came to my mind recently.  It's quite amazing how much change the last couple of generations have seen, experienced, and incited.  Technology is the easiest one to quantify, and we'll get to that one, but there have been many other changes as well.  Just in my lifetime, we've seen the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany on the international front, just for two major examples.  Shortly before my lifetime, homosexuality was listed by the APA as a mental disorder. (Not delving into that one right now, just using it as an example) The US economy has moved from production to service as it's major product.  Marriage has become more and more optional, whether people are starting one or continuing one.  People don't typically find a job and stay there until retirement, instead changing companies and often career paths frequently.  Those are just the tip of the iceberg on the social side of changes that have happened in the last thirtysomeodd years.  The social changes alone could take pages and pages to list.  Feel free to think of your own before we move to the next section.
Technology, like I said, is the easiest area of change to see.  When I was a kid, the telephone was attached to the wall, the receiver was on a cord that only stretched a couple of feet from the box, and it had a rotary dial.  A few years later, the phones had push buttons instead of rotors, multiple lines in the home became more common, and eventually wireless handsets let you wander around the house on the phone.  Now of course, we've moved from the house phone to the cell phone, which has grown in it's own leaps and bounds.  Early cell phones weren't cell phones, they were car phones, because you still had to plug them into something.  I've still got my first cell phone in a box somewhere.  It made phone calls, as long as the little plastic antenna could pick up a signal, send and receive text messages, and play Snake on the little green screen.  Now our phones make calls, play high end video games, take pictures and video, store gigs of data, read books, surf the web, track our global position..... you get the point.  The same has happened to computers.  Our first computer was an Apple IIc, with big old 5 1/4 in floppy disks that held a whopping megabit or two.  You know that old cellphone I was talking about?  It is a more powerful computing device then that poor old Apple. 
These are a lot of changes that have gone on in my short lifetime.  It certainly isn't a matter of things haven't changed before.  The difference is that the change seems to happen much faster now.  Way back when, it took months or even years for changes to disseminate into the culture, outside of small pockets like big cities.  I was watching a movie about the great Oklahoma land race, and started thinking about the years it took to set that up, and the years it took for the settlers to establish themselves on their new land, even though it became theirs in a very short amount of time. 
I think this tendency to change is one of the reasons why the last couple of generations have had such an issue in accepting God.  God is eternal, and in that eternal, He hasn't changed.  His plans haven't changed, from Adam and Eve to the nation of Israel to Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross to the wait for Jesus' return.  We have gotten so accustomed to change that the idea of God being the same, having the same values and plans and desires and expectations for us over all these centuries is hard to fathom.  We think that somehow, because the world has changed, God has changed along with it, and adjustments have to be made.  But that isn't how it works.  God isn't the one who has to make adjustments, we are.  I know changing that paradigm isn't going to be easy, but we have to do it, first in ourselves, then in the Church.  How do we make the changes?  Get back to the Bible.  Read those hard parts again, and see how they stand against our ideas.  Our pastor preached on Acts 5:1-11 this week, when Ananias and Sapphira were struck down for lying about what they had given.  Go back and read that, and think about whether that principle has changed any.  That's just one example of many where we have gotten ideas in the world and in the Church that somehow time has changed the way God works and wants us to work. 
Over the years, I've read lots of various commentators (of various degrees of talent) express how the Bible is full of old fashioned ideas that have outlived themselves.  Silly concepts like mankind is a special creation, not a random happenstance, or like we are naturally selfish, greedy, and sinful, not taught such things by society.  But I'd like to ask those folks, we've been living under those changes in mindset, along with others, for some time now.  How is that change working out for us?  Have those changes made a happier, safer, better world?  If not, maybe there's something to these old constants, no?

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