Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Emergence Of A New Generation: Excerpts From Chapter Three

THREE

ENEMIES OF CHANGE
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (John 4:20)

…a great door… is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries—Apostle Paul.1

THE AXIOM “CHANGE IS THE ONLY THING that is constant” holds true. Change will always take place. But change is also one of the difficult things for us to handle. We love our comfort zones. Moving into new territories becomes difficult.
Andy Stanley, the Pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta wrote about the difficulty of Change in his book The Next Generation Leader. He said:
…it is easier to leave things as they are, to accept the status quo and learn to live with it. While that may be easier, it is not an option…Accepting the status quo is the equivalent of accepting a death sentence. Where there is no progress, there’s no growth. If there’s no growth, there’s no life. Environments void of change are eventually void of life.2
Inferring from Andy Stanley, change is basically challenging the status quo. That certainly does not come easy. As Christians, there are some specific enemies I believe will fight a change process in our lives. Let’s consider some of the specific enemies to watch out for whilst aspiring for change. I will limit myself to eight points, though; I believe there are many other things that can prevent us from fulfilling our God given assignments.

1. SELF
The popular saying that “you are your own enemy” is without any doubt true. This is because whatever you will become greatly lies with you. There is unlimited potential in you by virtue of your relationship with Christ. Unfortunately, no one but you can discover those potentials. If you don’t discover them, they will lie dormant in you.
    Your beliefs about yourself are very important. If you believe you are a failure, then you will fail. However if you believe you are a success, you will be. You can’t get very far in life if you give in to your self-doubts and allow it to rule you. No matter how gifted you are, you have to believe in yourself and step out to become what God has created you to be.
    You are the only one standing between your success and defeat; your change and stagnation. In fact, you are 100% responsible for what your life will become. What happens to you does not matter. How you respond is what matters. Always remember that.

2. AGE
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Your age and your youthfulness are going to be a major barrier. The likelihood of being looked down on, ignored and despised should be expected. You will be tagged as inexperience, overzealous and a novice. But don’t allow such “looking down” on you to deter you. If God is working through you no one can stop you. Keep pressing on. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on what God has called you to do and do it.
Dreamers have never been understood. People who bring about change are always not understood at the initial stages. Don’t expect anyone to believe in what you carry. Start working at it and people will believe in you afterwards. When Joseph dreamt, even his own father Jacob — the father of the nation Israel doubted Joseph’s dream.
…his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? (Genesis 37:10).
You are still waiting for someone to believe in you? You might miss your moment whilst waiting. Don’t consider your age or youthfulness. Just step out there and start chasing your dreams.

3. FEAR
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9).
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God…For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Change comes with the unknown. The unknown comes with fear and uncertainty. Everything new always produces a level of anxiety and nervousness. Will I win, will this turn out well? Can I truly do this? Fear is a potent power that can ground and immobilize anyone to try new things.
     Look at Joshua 1:9 again. Do you realise God’s words to Joshua is in the past tense? Though the Bible didn’t state it, God’s words in the past tense I believe meant that when Joshua took over from Moses, he had fear in his heart and might have discussed with God about his fears. After discussing his fears with God, I suspect Joshua was still grounded in that fear. God had to come in again and remind him about the fact that “we have spoken about this your fear already.”
     Obviously, taking over from a man like Moses is no child’s play, but that does not justify Joshua’s fear. Someone has actually defined fear as False Evidence Appearing Real. Isn’t that so true? From personal experience, I have come to discover that anytime I act contrary to my fears, I later get surprised why I was afraid in the first place. Fear will stop you from entering the place of change God has for you.
Fear I believe is “faith in the devil.” From 2 Timothy 1:7 it is clear that fear is a spirit—a spirit which is not from God. “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear.” If fear is not a spirit from God, then obviously, it originates from Satan.
      Now, as much as fear is an enemy for change, fear itself is not the problem. The problem is what we do with fear: whether we will allow it to immobilize us or serve as a springboard for greater things. If placed in a right perspective; fear will drive us to our only source of strength—God (see Acts 4:29).
Fear: everyone feels it. If you read through the Bible, everyone God used had fear at a point in time. Even Jesus got afraid. Yes Jesus got afraid! Going to the cross did not happen easily. Jesus negotiated the sentence of the cross for three times (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44).
      Be encouraged, everyone gets afraid but those who succeed are the ones who don’t allow fear to hold them down. The presence of fear means nothing—the courage to rise above fear is the most important. You can overcome fear—you have the Holy Spirit.

4. RELIGION/TRADITIONS

Religion is defined as:
A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.3
For the purposes of human categorisation, Christianity has been categorised as religion. But looking at religion as defined above; you will agree that Christianity is more than “a set of beliefs…containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”
      Religion is a creation of humankind; Christianity is a relationship with God that goes beyond the keeping of a moral code. Religion prescribes morality; Christianity prescribes grace. Religion is human effort: trying to please God through the adherence of morals. Christianity is God’s effort at reaching out to humanity (see Romans 5:8).
       Religion can also be seen as traditions. Traditions define the way things are done and anyone who attempts to break away and do things differently will face opposition. I am in no way proposing disregard for good traditions on which society is built and thrives. What I have in mind is tradition that stifles creativity, growth and change.
       When you look again at John 4:20 quoted at the beginning of this chapter, when Jesus touched on the most important issue the Samaritan woman had to address i.e. her search for true satisfaction in life; she quickly changed the conversation to religion.  “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain….” What she was saying in essence was that; “this is what I have known all this while,” “this is how it is done always;” “it is a tradition that has been handed over to us.” Tradition resists change — tradition glories in keeping to the status quo...

End of Excerpt

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