Monday, July 22, 2013

Stability In Change

Malachi 3:6 (KJV)  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
James 1:8 (KJV)  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
We’ve been talking about change.  In that context, those two verses make an interesting contrast, worthy of consideration.  We said last time that change isn’t the problem, but what we change from and what we change to.  The process of change can be equally at issue.  Let’s take a look.

Malachi tells us that God doesn’t change.  But, when we look at the context, there’s more to the story.  Israel left God for false gods, sorcerers, their own comfort.  In other words, they changed and God is offering a way to change again (repentance).  It’s not changing that’s bad.  Nor is being unchanging.  In Malachi, it’s saying that the offer to return to God was already part of the plan.  God is saying, “I set the standard, indeed I created it.  I’m immovable from the standard.  And, more importantly, I am the standard.”.  That doesn’t sound very good until we realize that the standard and the plan encompass grace and mercy.

When we realize that God’s standard is a way of change for the better, a way of forgiveness, then we can no longer view God as stubborn and intractable, but as the ultimate source of stability.  And that stability is anchored in love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  God isn’t changing His mind when He forgives us.  He’s maintaining the standard.

Think of the human side of the equation.  James 1:8 pictures a person flip flopping between whether the joys of the Lord are better than the pleasures of the flesh.  That makes us wonder if God’s standard is best or if it’s having a “me first” way of thinking. 

Proverbs 24:21 (KJV)  My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
That verse and the passage around it actually answers our question.  It’s not talking about someone changing their mind.  It’s talking about those who choose anything over God’s choices.  And they make that change, then remain unchangeable in sticking with self orientation instead of God’s way.  Or, as Romans 1 puts it:

Romans 1:25 (KJV)  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

There was a recent brief online discussion of the Ephesians 6 passage about the armor of God.  The question came up that the back had no covering.  There’s good reason for that.  If we trust God and function in His strategy, then we may make some strategic sidesteps, but we’re not retreating.  We aren’t living in fear of the unknown; we’re facing the enemy and see who and what he is, along with what he’s attempting to do to us.

Job was used by God as an example to Satan.  That wasn’t because he did everything perfectly, but rather that his heart was perfect.  And Job passes almost all the tests with flying colors.  The one that Job didn’t pass is a great example.  God gave Job as many chances at a “redo” as he needed to get it right.  God was interested more in Job’s heart that wanted to get it right than Job’s performance that couldn’t immediately make his desire into his reality.

If we retreat, we’re the ones “given to change”.  We’ve become the ally of God’s enemy.  Until the end times, when that enemy will be in complete chaos and killing his own, it’s to his advantage to use his ally instead of wounding or killing him.  For the moment, strength in numbers seems to him to have value.

In that change, there appears to be stability.  But what’s actually happening is that there’s one change, followed by a lack of growth.  Contrast that with these passages:

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (KJV)  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV)  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

In our imperfect, earthly form, there’s a limit to our understanding and potential for growth.  That allows us to be deceived into changing from alignment with God’s thoughts to something we ought not to consider.  And that’s what makes us just like Job.  Because God gives us as many chances to “get it right” as we need to succeed.  That never changes until God’s omniscience says that choice is no longer possible.  And we keep growing toward that end.

As Christ followers, we keep moving toward that point when we are changed into something like Him.  That moment in eternity when we experience our full growth and no longer need to change.  How are we growing, today, so that we experience stability in change?

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