Times of Change

“Some things change, some don’t” I suppose the saying goes. Perhaps it is more of a cliche. We set our clocks forward an hour, entering into a tradition I would love to see die. That is a change of which I’m no fan. I’ve lived in two states that refuse to do so, and loved living in both. Okay, one was Hawaii, and it was a long time ago, but still.

While the time changed, the tradition of changing time did not. Something changed, something didn’t. One thing that has changed is how I teach a class for youth at my church. I let them ask anything about the Bible. I don’t prepare, there’s no notes, no plan (there’s a backup plan just in case). Right after we pray, I ask, “What have you read, and what are your questions.”

It’s not a class where we find a lot of answers. It’s not about what I know. It’s about their search, and encouraging their search through the Scriptures. I try and help them either find answers, or be okay without them. I challenge them to fearlessly explore the weirdness of our Creator and Savior. 

One of the things I do in this class is attempt to connect the world in which Scripture was written with the world in which we live. “The more things change, the more they stay the same” or something like that. I point out that, instead of worshipping idols made of stone and wood, people today worship idols of wealth and popularity. 

One of them brought up Psalm 1:1:

How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand in the pathway with sinners,
or sit in the assembly of scoffers.

Psalms 1:1 NET

She asked, “Aren’t we supposed to be around them to be a witness?” That’s both an excuse, and also a reality. Churches have so separated us from the world through shame (how dare you be found in such a place/with such people), that we, as disciples of Jesus, can no longer reach those who need Him.

On the other hand, people, especially younger people, have used “reaching the lost” as an excuse to “hang out” with people who are more of an influence on them than they are being on the “lost”. I referred her to Paul’s quote of a Greek poet in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.'”

So, I gave them a guideline: who is influencing who? But that’s not really adequate is it? It’s not just about influence, it’s about how deeply we connect with those who are outside the family of faith. There is a danger here for me, in particular, because I find “lost people” somewhat refreshing in their views of “saved people”.

The truth is that few “lost people” really enjoy a talk about God, at least with me. That could be my problem, I admit. Even so, it’s something I have to confess when I find myself drawn to “hang out” with them. If I’m pretty sure God will not come up, why do I want to be around them?

So, which is it? Have times changed and now we should add those outside the faith to our circle of friends? Are times still dangerous and we should isolate ourselves from the world? Or is there some ground between these two where we can be lights in this wicked and perverse society (Philippians 2:15)?

I suppose, if we, like Paul, wrap our lives around the upward call of our Savior, then everyone around us will will be influenced by us, rather than we by them. And somewhere in that amorphous middle ground, we may find that we too, like Paul, will become all things to all people so that by all means we might win some (1 Corinthians 9:21-22).

Young people like concrete answers. I wish I had them. My continual mantra seems to be “walk with your Savior, and do what you can to encourage the walk of others.” I suppose if we do that, the rest, more or less, takes care of itself. I suppose. Sounds easy doesn’t? 

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1 Comment

  1. The problem with being in a crowd with non-believers is that we tend to either go along with them because we don’t want to be seen as “holier than thou” or we preach to them. “God wouldn’t like what you’re doing.” Jesus didn’t always approach things that way, instead he pointed out how what they were doing was just wrong from a right/wrong point of view. Like the story of the Good Samaritan, notice that God isn’t mentioned in the tale at all, He was just pointing out the right way to treat people, even those we don’t consider our friends. Lessons are far easier to accept if they are explained, not preached. Preaching only works with those who already believe.

    Liked by 1 person

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