What reaction do you have when you find yourself dealing with change? Of course, it depends on the nature and extent of such change, but I have experienced everything from excitement to dread, from anxiety to hope, from anticipation to fear.
When I was a child, we moved towns every two years or so due to my father’s work. A promotion for him meant a change of address, a change of school, along with a change of friends and everything familiar. I grew to dread this biennial change and the disruption it caused, but in hindsight, I can see many blessings that came with each move.
What changes have impacted you most significantly? What are your usual reactions to change?
What is it that you fear about change?
As God’s baptised people, we are called to fear, love and trust God above all things. And so, when we find ourselves fearful of change – be they good or bad changes – the Holy Spirit is revealing a misplaced trust in our lives and calling us to repentance. If that’s you, I delight to remind you that you are forgiven for allowing your fear of change to replace your confidence in your Heavenly Father.
Our hope is not found in keeping things the same, but is certain in the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and who has borne your sin and made you new.
In a significant way, change is foundational to our life in Christ. Our baptism marks the reality that we are changed from what we once were and have been remade in the image of God.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. Discuss times when the fact that you have been changed in baptism has been a comfort to you as you have faced uncertainties in life.
Luther’s Small Catechism reminds us that our baptism includes an invitation to allow God to continue changing us each day.
Through daily repentance, the Holy Spirit changes us as we turn from sin and toward Jesus’ transforming love revealed on the cross.
Read Romans 6:1–3.
How does this pattern of daily repentance change us and how we live?
Read Titus 3:4–7.
What good news do you hear as you reflect on the changes the Holy Spirit is enacting in your life as a baptised child of God? How does this free us to consider change in a new way?
What about change in the church? The church’s future is not secured by keeping everything the way it once was, nor is it guaranteed in pursuing change simply for change’s sake. Jesus’ promise that the church would endure to the end of the age is not dependent on either change or a lack thereof (Matthew 16:17–19) but on his grace alone.
While we can embrace change in many things, the core of our faith must remain unchanged as our confession and hope rest on the ‘faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 1:3).
This reality is also expressed in the ‘unchangeable article’ in the LCA’s constitution which states that we hold the Scriptures ‘as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God, and as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life’.
With such a sure and certain word that brings us forgiveness and life in Jesus’ name, we can confidently seek God’s will as we face all manner of changes around us, because our foundation is the unchanging certainty of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.
Pastor Matt Anker is the LCANZ’s Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission.