Making a difference? Or just making it different?
By Michael Krahn | Thursday, August 30, 2012
Photo by ztephen via Flickr.
My journey, like many Christians my age, began with regular church attendance and baptism as a young adult. And I don't consider it rare to have experienced a time frustration in my early 20s and dissatisfaction in my late 20s. Much of this frustration and dissatisfaction had to do with a sense that the Church (both universal and local) was not being all that it could be in the world.
The culture surrounding my generation and the world around us was in a lot of trouble and we felt responsible to do something about it. And so we began to think of ways to make an impact. And not only did we think, we started to act!
But when I look back now, I can see that I too often fell prey to a spirit of brash actions. As is often the case, I was fueled by very good desiresto see more people meet Jesus, to see the Church make a bigger impact and to tackle injustice in the world.
Swept up in the thrill of these good intentions, 'change' became my mandate. Of course when you pave a road with little more than good intentions, you probably know where it might be heading. I was ready to throw every current church-related thing into the bin marked 'obsolete' and send it off to the incinerator. Then in the absence of working parts, I began constructing new onesdrawn up in the fertile ground of my enthusiasmto replace the old.
But then I discovered somethingthere was actually a sort of manual for a lot of this stuff! God, the one who created everything to begin with, wrote it. Here I was pretending I didn't need His input.
My generation has always been told that we could make a difference, but too often instead we just set out to make things different. Because different is always better, right? Everything must change, right? We have to burn it all down and start again! Right?
Many of us still haven't realized that making a difference and just making it different are two very different things. Too often we're in a hurry to change thingssomething, anything, everything. Sometimes our frustration with the pace at which we see change reveals a lack of faith in God to bring about His plans in His good time. And often, by the time we stop to consult the manual already provided, we've already led others in the wrong direction.
Don't confuse making a difference with just making it different. Just because your impatient spirit tells you it's not working because you can't see it working doesn't mean it's not working. For some 2,000 years many Spirit-filled servants of God have been striving to lead the Church according to the existing instruction manual. They (and we) haven't gotten it all correct, but I'm placing my bets on it being more right than wrong.
Sometimes we need to change the way we do things; sometimes we need to let the way we do things change us.
Michael Krahn is a husband, father, pastor, writer and recording artist who enjoys books, theology, technology and the Ottawa Senators. Read more at www.michaelkrahn.com/blog.