I’ve missed this place. Today I have followed a friend back down to the beach in support of his quest to reinvigorate another caffeine establishment. I have to admit, the motives are fairly selfish. I left the beach quite a while back to support his previous post as café restorationist in a different part of town. The change was good, I’ll admit, and the atmosphere that he was able to create is what kept me there and kept the creativity alive. Besides, like I said, the change was good. Change is good.
I just wish more people would realize that. I say would because all could, but most won’t. I wish they would. In my “pastoral arts” calling, I don’t get to see and experience nearly enough change. After all, let’s be honest here, church change is quite the oxymoron. It’s right alongside government intelligence. I’ve come to believe that church change doesn’t happen quickly because “church people” change doesn’t happen quickly.
Yesterday, I was honored to watch a real professional depict a testimony of change taken from the pages of the Book of Books. This was real change inspired by a real encounter with a real gift from a real God. It was the result of an experience and then an investment with Jesus himself. I believe that we are all created with very real flaws, sometimes fatal flaws, and that they, if dealt with in a healthy non-denial attitude, will lead us to a very real savior. A savior demands change though. An overwhelming number of people who I interact with are very much interested in Jesus, but in denial over His application in their lives. In other words, they see no need to change. And I’m referring to “church” people. Don’t get me wrong, they are certainly interested in a “savior”. They just think that He’s for a “friend” with problems. I find those who are not “church people” to be much more open for their need to change. They just don’t know where to look.
I teach in my community o’ faith on a weekly basis, and you’d be amazed at how many times I’ve heard “that was such a wonderful message, I just wish …fill in the blank…were here to hear it”. Psychology has a word for that. It’s spelled D-E-N-I-A-L.
It’s the concept of I’m ok, you’re not ok and it’s the number one barrier to real change.
I received some insight recently from an unlikely source. A young lady who I’ll call a “searcher” was asking me how one determines what is really true when everyone acts like their own reality is the actual truth. “There’s no real constant” she claimed, even with church people. I couldn’t argue. I couldn’t even make excuses. All I could say is, “you’re right”. We had a great discussion on rules and humanity’s inability to keep them which led to a conversation on God providing Jesus for people because we couldn’t do for ourselves. We can’t change on our own, we need to allow Jesus to help in that. For a long time I didn’t really know what that meant. I just repeated it like a parrot. “Invite Jesus in to your Life”. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve begun to have any kind of understanding of the rhetoric that I’ve slung. Now I know a bit more of what it means to allow Jesus to influence lives. We can only do that by knowing His heart and by faith, living according to His example. How did He treat people? How did He value people? How did he feel about meaningless, but very passionate hypocrisy? How did He serve? How did He heal? You have to “know” Him, and then change to be like Him. Her next comment still sticks with me days later. “I guess that I’ve just never seen it”, she said.
Now I am more aware than many of my own need for change. It is constant. I sit here watching waves washing steadily on the beach and I know from experience that every rolling white cap of foam brings unrelenting change to the sand as it rolls upwards and then drags back down into the depths every manner of marine stuff imaginable. But it’s a force that directs the change. All things left to themselves, without the motion of the water or the early Spring storms, and there would be very little change. Change should be constant. It should also reflect the force which is directing it. Sitting here in the early morning overcast I can observe that waves happen, so should change.