Summary: We have been changed to serve an unchangeable God by delivering an unchangeable message so others will be changed.
Two men had gone moose hunting up in Canada for a week. Their week of hunting was over, and a pilot had flown in to pick them up, as arranged ahead of time. The pilot taxied the plane down the grass landing strip to where the hunters stood with all of their equipment and the two moose they had shot. The pilot got out of the plane and looked over the men’s equipment and the two moose. He then said, “I am sorry men, but we cannot take both moose back with us. There will be too much weight, and the plane will never get off the ground.”
The two hunters looked at each other for a moment, and then one of them said, “We think it will be all right. Last year we came up here with the same equipment and shot two moose about the same size as these. The pilot who picked us up had a plane about the size of yours, and we got off the ground just fine.”
The hunter thought for a moment, and then said, “Well, if you think it can be done, we will try it.” So they loaded up all the equipment and the two moose, climbed aboard, and the pilot taxied as far back on the grass strip as he could. He headed down the strip as fast as he could and began to pull the plane up. The plane bounced a couple of times, and then finally lifted off the ground, flew a short ways, and crashed.
About fifteen minutes later, one of the two hunters regained consciousness. Soon the other hunter regained consciousness. They looked around for a moment, and then one of them said to the other, “Where are we?” The took one more look around and answered, “Oh, about two hundred yards farther than last year.”
Isn’t that about the way things seem to go in the church too often? We only make a little bit of progress from year to year. We do so today in an age where everything else seems to be changing so rapidly around us. How do we deal with changing times in the church and in our lives?
This is a critical question in light of some of the circumstances we find ourselves in today.
I serve on a Christian college board where we are in the midst of one of the biggest changes a school like ours will ever face as we move toward a merger with another college. Right when we had things moving in a good direction, this opportunity presents itself as a possibility for moving the school forward even further. How do you face such a thing? Through the discussions with the other school, we worked back and forth on whether moving forward with the merger was a good idea, finally concluding that was the direction the Lord was leading us. How do you deal with that kind of change?
The same issues are present in the church. I am in new church work. Those of us in that field know the great value of church planting, but sometimes existing churches feel threatened by a new church being planted near them. Yet when approximately 70% of the United States population is unchurched, how can we not proceed with every effort that will bring people to Christ? How do you deal with the kind of change such efforts bring?
A couple of Scripture passages open the way to dealing with these questions and lead us toward a text that will serve as the heart of this article:
In 1 Chronicles 12:32 David has become king over Israel after several years of battle with Saul. At this time of change, the writer is citing the number of men who have come to David and turned Saul’s kingdom over to him. The writer references 200 chiefs from the men of Issachar. He says they “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Could the same thing be said of us?
In Esther 4:14 Mordecai, knowing his people were being threatened, went to Queen Esther and said to her: “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
Let me ask you, do you understand the times and know what to do? Who knows but God has placed you where he has for such a time as this? How then should we respond to the challenge of our changing times?
Examine with me, 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:10. In the verse preceding this passage, Paul reminds us that we have a building from God that we long for, because our earthly tent is no good. We can, then, be confident in Christ, live by faith and not by sight, and make it our goal to please the Lord. On that basis, then, we try to persuade people of the Gospel, not tying to commend ourselves; we are compelled by Christ’s love to do so. He then goes on to answer how we can face the challenge of changing times. In doing so, Paul gives us three essential elements to facing changing times. The essence of these elements is that we have been changed to serve an unchangeable God by delivering an unchangeable message so others will be changed.