All who claim to be Christians will say they worship God The degree to which we worship God however depends on the extent to which we actually know Him-or to put it another way which ‘god’ do we actually worship? If our knowledge of God is limited, defective or distorted by our own ideas, then we may well be worshipping a false ‘god’.
One area in which this can apply is in the area of change. It is a core belief of biblical Christianity that God is ‘Immutable’, i.e. does not change, He always was, is and will be the same. The problem arises however when church members assume that the God who doesn’t change also doesn’t expect them to change or how they do things, e.g. ‘church’ and ‘mission’. The bible says otherwise.
Firstly, God is a God who does ‘new things’ (Isaiah 42:9; 43:19). Secondly, He is the God of the ‘New’ Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) Thirdly, Jesus tells us that he makes all things ‘new’ (Revelation 21:5). Fourthly, Jesus came into the world to establish his kingdom which involves setting humans and human structures free from their bondage to the spiritual ‘powers’ (Ephesians 6:12), inevitably meaning change. It is obvious that the coming of the Kingdom of God brings change because it displaces the Kingdom of Satan, and so when we pray for it in the Lord’s prayer we are actually praying FOR change. Therefore if we want, and even demand that, the church (‘My’ church, service etc) stays the same, how we do mission to stays the same etc. then we ourselves are subject to bondage to the ‘powers’ who are working 24/7 to constrain the coming of God’s Kingdom. Resistance to the development of an Unbounded Church for the sake of mission is a manifestation of this bondage.
Change and new things are central to the nature of God and His mission in the world, and that extends to the individual Christian. Why? Because by definition a Christian is someone who –
• Has received a ‘new’ heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
• Has received a ‘new’ mind – way of thinking (Romans 12:2a)
• Is a ‘new’ person (John 3:3-7)
For these reasons every Christian should expect God to call them to ‘new’ things in ‘new’ ways and in ‘new’ places. This means that He calls EVERY Christian to new ways of being a Christian community and reaching the lost and establishing His kingdom. If this God who does new things is not ‘my god’, then we are not worshipping the God of the Bible who himself doesn’t change but changes everything else!
There are many Biblical examples of God’s left field and shocking call to unsuspecting people, to do new and unexpected things, in unexpected places. Eg. Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Gideon, Jeremiah and all the apostles-the list is endless. There is also an endless list of ‘unlikely’ Christians down the ages who can be added.
If we resist change in the church, in ministry and in mission could it be that we are worshipping our own ‘god’, not the unchanging God of the Bible who changes everything’. Such a phenomenon is a main reason for the missional ineffectiveness of Australian congregations.
That is why we need an ‘Unbounded Church’, one set free from the forms and missional strategies of yesteryear if we are to reverse the dark tide of paganism descending on us. For this to happen, those who call themselves Christian need to pray that God will change us so that-
• Our ‘new’ hearts will be filled with His passion for the lost;
• Our ‘new’ minds will be so renewed that we think with the mind of Christ;
• That as His ‘new’ children we will grow to a spiritual maturity that puts His mission, and nothing and no-one else, at the centre of our lives;
Most of all, pray that He will help us get to know Him better, the ‘Unchanging changer’, the unchanging God who changes everything.
Martin J. Bragger