One of the problems with Churches is often they are always on to the next new thing, much of UK Christianity is full of fads.
In the book of Habakkuk God says “Behold I am doing a new thing”, note he doesn’t say behold I am doing the next thing, or another fad, but I am doing a new thing.
The origin of this is from God, not nicked and copied from the glossier church up the road -you do your notices on video, suddenly we do notices on video!
Often these phases are normally cosmetic, and do nothing to solve the heart of the problem which normally stems from people being reluctant to be obedient when it is costly and involves sacrifice… easier to re-design your facebook page than to tell people about Jesus, feed the hungry, love the difficult people who make our lives difficult and all the other sacrificial and costly aspects to discipleship.
Yet Gods changes aren’t superficial nor cosmetic, but go to heart of who we are. Gods changes are transformative and his change stems from his heart.
Yet it’s a strange paradox, that although we want to be doing the new and the cosmetic, underneath it all, we are actually somewhat resistant to real change, -because real change is unsettling and costly- Bishop Mike calls it “the powerful pull of the status quo bias”…
You see we approach life with our own world view, we look at it through our lenses, we solve problems by past experience, the way we’ve always done it, and history repeats itself again, and again, sometimes in what feels like a never ending spiral.
Yet God looks at his world not with a limited, fallible and broken world view but with the eyes of the all seeing God, and the mind of the all knowing one.
Perhaps this is why he says, “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts not your thoughts!”
One of the classic examples of this is sending a mere child -David- to fight against a man mountain of Goliath, and Saul clothed him in his own armour.
It was well intentioned, but the armour immobilized David.
The old way, the conventional wisdom was insufficient for the task set before them.
David refused to do things the way the had always been done before, and instead armed only with a slingshot and 5 stones, went out and defeated Goliath.
Sometimes people put so many things on us, often well intentioned, but actually end up debilitating and immobilising us.
Are we trapped, suffocated in the dust of a previous culture.
Trying to live for today in yesterdays baggage, held back by the debris of the past.
I believe God is saying to his Church a message of liberation that sets us free from the burdens, weights, restrictions of “Saul’s Armour” that is often placed upon us, and our shoulders, which cause us to buckle under the weight on the burden Christ never intended us to carry.
What are you carrying? Are you trying to fight in obsolete equipment? Have people put things on you which don’t fit -and probably will never fit-.
Is God opening up new openings, new opportunities and new ways of doing and of being?
I believe that God is doing a new thing in this nation.
I believe that God is doing a new thing in this city.
I believe God is doing a new thing within his Church.
I believe God is doing a new thing within the lives of his followers.
…and I believe this is not simply giving his army a make over, but rather calling us into a place of liberation and freedom, new places of new victories in new ways.
So often we assume we know what to do, we return -like a pig in the mud or a dog to its vomit- to our old default ways of doing and being rather than seeking whether God is showing us a new ways.
God is unpredictable, he never repeats a miracle the same way twice. We need to trust his hand, his heart and his provision and power rather than our own methodology or opinion.
God is doing a new thing, what is our response? Do we keep going as we always have, doing what we have always done? Or do we seek to see what God is saying, catching the wind or the wave of his spirit, seeing his footprints and follow where he leads.
I love Rowan Williams’ line about life and mission which is “find out what God is doing and joining in”.
God show me what you are doing and let me join in, keeping in step with you, as we walk your way into a future that I can’t yet see, but I know that I can trust you with it.