Even for those of us who love change, it is not always so easy to bring about in our own lives. The modern conception of how science progresses was upended just over 50 years ago with the publication of a relatively short book by Thomas Kuhn titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this work, Kuhn dispels the idea that significant scientific change takes place as scientists slowly accumulate new data and incrementally modify existing theories. In fact, those who work within the consensus paradigms rarely change their theories, even when the data could be viewed another way. Profound scientific progress, Kuhn argues, is more akin to a political revolution. Kuhn quotes physicist Max Planck:
… a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Some of us will die before we will change. This is a well-known reality among those who follow the statistics of church growth. Every year, thousands of churches will either make major changes, or they will close their doors. Most close their doors.
Change requires great effort, and a greater God.
In the second millennium BC, the Israelites were suffering greatly under Egyptian oppression. The Lord heard their cries and raised up Moses to be their deliverer. God had a promised land for them. But the challenges that accompanied the hope of a new life soon overwhelmed many who had left Egypt.
“We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. … The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them. … We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
Numbers 13:31- 14:4
Change is risky. Every start in a new direction is met by a powerful temptation to revert to previous behavior. We often don’t realize how much our identity is wrapped up with our past until we try to take a step forward. Fear of the unknown can be overwhelming.
But two men, Joshua and Caleb, saw through the seemingly overwhelming obstacles.
“If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Deep change is only possible because “the Lord is with us.” As recorded in Matthew 1:23, Jesus Christ is our true Immanuel (“Immanuel” means “God with us.”) All those who put their confidence in Jesus can be assured that God is with them. And if God is for us, Paul writes, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
There are changes God wants you to make in 2014. Fix your eyes on Jesus, climb out of the boat, and start walking.