Courage to Change

This is a worrying era of diminishing congregations and uncertain times for many chapels and churches in most Western Christian denominations. But we must remember that we alone are not responsible for the future of our faith.. We have to believe that God is in charge and, therefore, be willing and receptive agents of change in His name. In the book of Proverbs we read “Where there is no vision the people perish” (29:18). A vision for the future of Christianity needs us to trust that all will be well if only we follow where the Spirit leads us. And I readily admit that it is not easy for old dinosaurs like envisage what necessary and radical changes will be required.

I am reminded of God’s question to Ezekial: “Can these dry bones live?” (Ezekial37:1-14.)The obvious answer for any mortal would surely have been “NO – there is absolutely no way that could happen!” AND YET they did.

I would suggest that we heed the statement in Proverbs “Where there is no vision the people perish” (29:18). For, without a vision of future possibilities we wilt, stagnate and die. However, If we hold in our hearts and minds ( and we do need both to be involved) the fact that God IS in our future , we will be able to take comfort from his declaration to to Jeremiah “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you …….plans to give you a hope and a future”. (29:11) But God goes on to make that promise conditional “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (29:13)

That assurance should give us the courage we need to make the necessary changes to our way of doing things. So it is vital that we, not only ask God to give us a vision of how we might do things in the future, but also the courage to act on that vision. For, without a new and dynamic vision, the status quo will remain. It will only be when we have the determination to fulfil the vision that the dry bones of Christian faith and church, as we know it, can come alive again in a way that will ensure we welcome God’s future plans wherever they may lead.

As I was preparing this I remembered a hymn that asks God to give us the wisdom and the courage we will need to follow where he leads:
I suggest you read the words as a prayer:
God of grace and God of glory,
On thy people pour thy power;
Now fulfil thy Church’s story;
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour.
Lo, the hosts of evil round us
Scorn thy Christ, assail his ways;
From the fears that long have bound us
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days.
Cure thy children’ warring madness,
Bend our pride to thy control:
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in goods and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be
Armoured with all Christlike graces
As we we set your people free,
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we fail the world or thee.