The perfect excuse

One of my favorite sayings in Scripture comes from Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” It just oozes with stability and predictability. In a world where change is the only certainty, these words are like an oasis of calm. I have also met some folks, Christian leaders in particular, who use this verse as an excuse to never change opinions or moral stances, especially about faith issues. Before you get angry with me, can you imagine a church that still accepts slavery as normal or even acceptable? And slavery is but one issue that the church and its leaders have had to back-track on. I grew up in a house where dancing, drinking and going to movies where all signs of a person without a “real” Christian faith. Years ago my denomination felt that only baptism by immersion was acceptable and the idea of women in pastoral leadership was unpalatable. Today I can hardly imagine a thoughtful Christian still holding to these convictions.

The surprising part of opening ourselves up to the God of Scripture, the One who never changes, is that our need to change and adjust becomes more pronounced. Church history is full of stories where people got God wrong. In Acts 10 and 11 we read about Peter and how he comes to a new awareness that Jesus is not the Savior for just the Jewish but also for the Gentiles.

The need for us to change is most pronounced whenever we start to exclude others from the faith or ask them to change and meet our standards for what it means to be a believer. There is an amazing side benefit to opening ourselves up to change. The stress of staying aware of who should be excluded is overwhelming. When we open ourselves up to the possibility that the kingdom of God is wider and deeper than a particular set of convictions a freedom and joy emerges.