Wednesday, 22 January 2014

On Retirement, Change and St Barnabas: my piece for the latest (Epiphany) issue of The Encourager

The only constant in life is change (Heraclitus). From conception to death, we never stop. Some changes are incremental, barely perceptible; others are obvious and dramatic; some we welcome, others we resist; some for the better, some for the worst. Change challenges us.

That is especially true for you and me right now. We’ve got a big change coming on May 1st, 2014. From that day I will no longer be your priest and you will no longer be my “flock.” It’s a time that had to come sooner or later. As that time approaches it is important for us to reflect on how we can make the best use of the time (Ephesians 5.16) as we prepare ourselves for what The LORD has in store.

James Ryle, author and speaker, describes how healthy change works; change challenges us, challenge forces us to trust God, trust leads to obedience, obedience makes us healthy, healthy things grow, growing things change.

According to Ryle, change that challenges is not necessarily a bad thing because challenge forces us to trust God, which is exactly what you and I need to do right now. We need to trust that St Barnabas is God’s church, that we are God’s people whom He loves, and that Jesus, who stays the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb 3.18), and who never changes, is God With Us (Matthew 1.23, Joshua 1.9, Matthew 28.20, Hebrews 13.5, Romans 8.38-39). One of the ways we can trust in God is by praying for our time of change always and not losing heart (Luke 18.1).

Trust then leads to obedience. What should we obey? What Jesus taught. The Great Commandment is a good start: love God and our neighbour (Mark 12.29-31). Trusting God will also enable you to obey if He is calling you to be involved in the change process.

Obedience makes us healthy. Healthy people in healthy communities bring glory to Jesus. They are open to change, manage it well, make good choices and work their changes for the better.

Finally, healthy things grow. Where Jesus is worshipped, served and obeyed in community there is good health. When that happens the whole cycle starts over again because growing things change.