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Change is not a betrayal of the past.

            “We never did it this way before.”  -Every time a renewal movement begins, every time a reform movement begins, the argument, or one of the arguments against is that this is not the way it was or the way it has been.
            Jesus’ strongest enemies argued, resisted what he was doing and saying on the basis of what we call tradition.  Now tradition is a neutral word—it is not good or bad in itself.  Yet with only two exceptions in the New Testament, “tradition” is used in a negative sense.  Jesus never used it in a positive sense.  It was always when he was criticizing or blaming someone for using tradition to avoid hearing what he had to say–
            “you substitute  your tradition for the command of God.”
            “you make void the word of God through your tradition.”
            Paul, the apostle said he persecuted Christian because he was zealous of the traditions of his fathers.  Other places in the NT, we read that philosophy and vain deceit, that is human tradition are in opposition to Christ.  We are warned about the “empty folly of your traditional ways.”
            So we find from history and the NT one of the greatest enemies of spiritual growth and life has always been that argument this is different from the way we used to do it.”
            Those who should have been most prepared by their tradition to readily receive Jesus were his greatest enemies.  If those people had really been true to      their tradition, if they had really looked at the seed or the roots of their tradition, if they had realized what was basic to their tradition, they would have found at the heart was the promise of the coming Messiah and     that Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.  They used the outward form, the branches and the leaves which had been so important to resist Jesus.
            This is a human tendency.  It is a natural reaction—to want to conserve what is old and familiar, and what is pleasant and comfortable.  Those of us today who are experiencing spiritual life and renewal can easily identify that life and renewal with certain forms.  We might identify it with a certain class, a certain ritual, a certain program, they become sacred to us (and they should). But we can easily begin to assume those outward things  are the cause or the substance of renewal and 10,20, 30 years from now can find ourselves  resisting a renewal movement because other forms and manifestations of it are not the way we have done it.
            In other words, where ever we are, whether we see God at work now or whether we remember when God worked it is very tempting to think the way things are around us at that time need to be recreated or preserved for God to work.  We have to worship God in exactly the same way.  We have to teach in exactly the same way.  We have to do everything in exactly the same way.  Many people have found spiritual life and renewal who have found vitality in a particular congregation identify spiritual life with the size of that congregation.  Many who grow up in a small church tend to believe it is impossible to experience vitality in a large congregation and vice versa.
            We tend to identify the leaves and the branches with the roots and to hold on to the old leaves and branches.
            The Novelist John Galsworthy–THE COUNTRY HOUSE tells the creed of the Pendyce family:

“I believe in my father, and his father, and his father’s father, the makers and keepers of my estate, and I believe in…my son and my son’s son.  And I believe that we have made the country….And I believe…in things as they are, for ever and ever.  Amen.”

            This can become our creed and an excuse to resist God’s direction and leadership.

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