Commentary: Dealing With Change


Given 20-Sep-14; 10 minutes

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John Ritenbaugh, suggesting that we have an ambivalent attitude to change, resisting it when it upsets our equilibrium or desiring it when we are in dire straits, proclaims that God deliberately places change in our lives to bring about spiritual growth toward perfection. The second law of thermodynamics teaches us that all matter is in a perpetual state of decay unless energy is expended to halt the process. God's command to Adam to dress and keep the environment indicates the dynamics of this principle. Our offspring would be stalled at a premature state of their developmental process if they did not weather tests and developmental tasks, some of them extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable. God as our Parent is no different; He will not curtail change in our lives until we are conformed into His image. God is the author of change in order to bring events to the conclusion He wants.



The last two commentaries ["What's Happening to Deference?" and "Is There Hope For Equality?"] dealt with some of the items that are involved in the cultural changes that are taking place in the United States, and they are changing really quite rapidly.

It's an undeniable fact that we live in a world of constant change. When things are going well in our life, then we wish the changes to happen. But when they are not going well, we wish the circumstances would change immediately. This tends to show our ambivalence regarding change, and yet I believe that it's also evidence of a growing maturity when we accept the fact that the change is part of the natural order of things as God created them, and God is, in effect, forcing changes to occur.

This is seen in that each day changes from dark to light. The seasons go through a cycle of changes each year. Weather changes occur frequently. Electronic and mechanical changes wear out and diseases come and go, and thus we age. Change makes progress through our entire life. Is there anything in the natural order of things that doesn't change?

The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy, along with mass, is conserved. One can change energy's or mass' form, but they cannot be created out of nothing, nor will they totally disappear.

Sunlight, captured long ago by plants, is now available to us as chemical energy in the form of gasoline. When we burn it in our cars, some disintegration takes place, but the energy is converted—changed—to mechanical energy and the car moves. It has changed and goes elsewhere to be used again.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics puts limits on what can be done as energy is applied. The Second Law basically states that things tend toward disintegration, toward disorder. In other words, what God is saying here is that there is a natural decay built into God's creation unless efforts are made to preserve it. In other words, God built in a natural decay, a natural disorder, into creation. A human body will quit working unless there is periodic resupplying of food energy. Put a two year-old unsupervised in a room for a couple of hours, and when you return, you're going to find a lot of disorder.

There are two laws that reveal that God intended that change be forced on us in order that we are required to deal with it. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden and commanded to dress and keep it. That means both build and preserve. He was in effect commanded to change things. This clearly shows change is produced by work, and change also produces work. Change, even good changes, also produce stress, and it is in stress that we have the common tendency to blame for the discouraged weariness or even the depression that follows in the wake of change.

My experience is not in the least unusual. Changes are forced on us by fluctuation of the economy. During my 81 years, I have gone through one depression, a number of wars (that tend to inflate the economy). I have gone through at least a half a dozen recessions; been unemployed with no income whatever (because of strikes in the steel industry); and also experienced boom times with a great deal of overtime pay when the economy was joy riding on high.

The almost constant changing is why God urges us to "go to the ant . . . which provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest" (Proverbs 6:6-8). He is telling us to take advantage of the good times because they will not continue forever.

In Ecclesiastes 3, God shows us the inevitability of change by teaching us that "to everything, there is a time and a season under heaven." God doesn't lie. God doesn't exaggerate. Do you get the point that God Himself is the author of change in order to bring about events to the conclusion that he desires?

Some things, we have absolutely no control over. The breakup of the Worldwide Church of God forced changes on us. How did you deal with that? I ask, because those changes very definitely had the element of destruction in them. I've made it very clear that I believe that God, not Satan, did that for our good.

Did everything go smoothly for Israel in the wilderness? Deuteronomy 8:2-3 tells us that God at times deliberately tests us by producing changes that are uncomfortable and inconveniencing, to say the least—things like allowing us to go hungry. He produces changes that shake us out of our comfort zones. Good times have a way of lulling us into complacency. There are times that we need a change to test whether we are even in the faith. Repentance indicates the bringing of a positive spiritual and moral change. Repentance is a change God demands of us. In fact, even after He accepted us into His presence through Jesus Christ, it is a fact that He demands that we continue what has begun by producing yet more positive changes.

I do not believe that you would want your children to remain forever at a six year-old level, would you? God clearly changes things, but yet He Himself never changes in His character and purpose for us. He is the major unchanging factor in this ever-changing world. The ethics and morals of this culture are changing, deteriorating, it seems, at the speed of light. The stresses required to resist not getting caught in the turbulent frustration and depression created in the wake of the changes is mounting. It wears some people out.

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is most certainly not in process as we are. He is unchanging spirit. His love, His character, and His leadership are constant in a world where nothing stays the same for very long. Hebrews 1:10 states of Him:

Hebrews 1:10-12 You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.

Whether we like it or not, we have to learn to deal with change because it is inevitable until we become like Him.


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