by Glen Young
Change is difficult. We all have experienced this truth. How many New Year resolutions have fallen by the wayside after a few weeks? There is no doubt that changing bad behavior is necessary even though it is difficult.
It is not my intention to discuss the need to change bad behavior. However, it is my intention to discuss the question; is change always right? As we investigate this question let us do so with an open mind. Could it be that the difficulty to change is not necessarily a bad thing? Please give consideration to the thoughts contained in this article.
How many times have we heard, “that is so old-fashioned”? Or, “We need to move into the twenty-first century with our message”? While we accept that the only constant in life is change, history is filled with examples where change was detrimental to the welfare of a society of people. Nowhere is this more obvious than when societies leave the righteous mores of their ancestors. History tells us that a society that deteriorates into immorality is doomed to destruction.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.” I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it” (Jeremiah 6:16-19).
God instructed Jeremiah to speak to Israel this metaphor as an explanation about the great calamity that was coming upon them. As the traveler of an unfamiliar road who comes to diverging roads must inquire of others which direction to take, so is Israel commanded to seek from others the “ancient paths.” The path they are to seek is the one which their fathers had walked in the direction of God by His word: signifying that there is no true way, but that which God prescribes.
The change Israel had made as a people were destroying them. Their departure from God’s way was causing God to rain upon them His wrath. We know from history that this caused their removal of their ‘promised land’ and the dissolution of Israel as a nation. Who, then, will say that the change from the ancient paths of their fathers to the modern way of godlessness and sin was good for Israel?
The example of Israel is a warning for all people for all time. People can rebel against the moral standard set by God in which their fathers walked. We can do so in the name of Change. We can do it to fit in with modern society. We can plead our case that it will be a better and more prosperous way. However, in the end, we must ask if such change is in accord with the will of our God.
I do not believe anyone who reads this article will disagree with the observation that the world, people in general, and our society in particular, have changed and are changing for the worse. In our own America the beautiful, we see moral decay. Sex education in public schools is touted as a necessity. What we have gotten is a society where children are being sexualized at a younger and younger age. A society where children are made to think it is OK to have sexual intercourse so long as they use contraceptives. But if you get pregnant, that is OK too, you can get an abortion. Millions of babies are murdered in their mother’s wombs because mommy does not want them.
We have become a society where drug and alcohol addictions are rampant. A society that glamorizes certain ones who fall prey to this destructive lifestyle just because they have a talent that brings them notoriety.
We have become a society filled with laziness. Those who expect to live off the labors of others. Was this the attitude of those who came here and carved a nation out of a wilderness? The desire to be independent and free has been coddled out of too many in our society today.
Christians are not immune to these changes that have occurred. When Christian men and women see nothing wrong with ‘living together’ without marriage or same-sex marriage, they are not walking by the ancient paths. Along the same line, when Christians take the position they can change marriages as often as they want without impunity, they are not walking in the ancient paths. When local churches are dying because no one wants to support the work of evangelism, be personally involved in the work of the local church or take the initiative to lead where they are qualified to do so, they are not walking by the ancient paths. When Christians have their priorities in the wrong things, they are not walking by the ancient paths.
While change is not sinful within and of itself, we must not change from the ancient paths lest we be judged as was Israel.
Christians must never forget who they are and what they are required to do. Paul understood this and affirmed that he lived his life with a clear understanding of his responsibilities. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).