The Beauty of Change

One of the interesting things I have noticed in several areas of my life has been the resistance many people seem to have to change. The school in which I teach science is an inner-city school in a 70-year-old building with a highly diverse student body. Pressure is being brought on the faculty to change methods and techniques of teaching to address the complex needs of our students, and many teachers and parents resent it. Many congregations are dealing with younger people who come with no fixed religious traditions or procedures. As they do things which have never been done before, it is unsettling to many older Christians. In our Does God Exist? outreach to people who do not believe in God, in Christ, and/or in the Bible as God's Word we do things and make approaches designed to meet the needs of those who are without faith. The vocabulary, place of meeting, and approach is different than what has been done in the past--and this is disturbing to some.

The common denominator in all of this is that it is not easy for most people to accept change. We establish a procedure to do something that works for us. Any change in that procedure is likely to involve work and adjustment, and we tend to oppose work or adjustment. Driving in a rut is easier than trying to get out of it, but sooner or later you have to either get out of the rut or rebuild the road. If you stay in the rut, it gets deeper and deeper until it brings the vehicle to a total stop!

One of the lessons we can take from the creation is that change is a design feature built into all aspects of the creation by God. When the sperm meets the egg in conception, change begins to take place at an incredible rate. From a single fertilized cell a human develops in part over nine months. This change continues after birth until a seven pound baby has turned into a teenager weighing over 100 pounds. When physical growth stops, change continues in different ways. Every seven years we get a completely new body. One by one, cells are replaced with new cells continually rejuvenating your physical body (except the brain where losing cells would mean losing memory).

On the cover is a reminder of another kind of change--the change of seasons. As fall comes, plants shed their worn and tattered leaves, small animals enter their safest time of the year as predators have a harder time finding them under the snow, and the insect domination of the world is brought to a halt. During the winter water reservoirs are recharged in the earth, the soil is covered with humus to provide for plants and all is made ready for spring.

Change is seen in so many positive ways in the natural world. Our skin adapts to solar radiation by tanning, our muscles can be strengthened through hard use, caterpillars turn into butterflies, and breeding techniques have produced bewildering numbers of new kinds of roses, dogs, cattle, fish, and vegetables.

We also see change in the surface of the earth as erosion, volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and gravity constantly alter the surface of the earth on which we live. All of this geological change brings us new soil, new land, and nutrients to sustain the plants on which we depend. This was dramatically driven home to me many years ago as I walked beside a lava flow on the big island of Hawaii. Walking rapidly I accidentally ran into a Japanese man with a wheelbarrow full of warm lava. When I asked him why he was collecting hot lava, his response was to grow orchids. It turned out that he found orchids grew better in the new soil he made out of ground up lava and seaweed than in normal dirt. The value of volcanic change and rejuvenation of soil through lava flows is a good demonstration of change benefiting the earth and mankind.

The world around us shows the benefit and beauty of physical change. Christianity is a religious system of change. One of the original complaints about Christianity in the early days was that they "were turning the world upside down" ( Acts 17:16). The concept of repentance involves change. The lifestyle of Christians is to be one that changes the world around them. Why would people who are a part of God's tool to change the world be resistant to change themselves? Somehow we seem to forget Paul's example that, "he became all things to all men that he might by some means change some" (1 Corinthians 9:21-22).

Seeing a person change his or her life from a destructive, selfish, egotistical, exploitive use of others to a serving, caring, God-directed life of love and graciousness is the most beautiful change of all. That is the highest beauty to which Christians are called.

                            --John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, Nov/Dec97.