Happy New Year!! 2016 is here in a matter of a few hours and there are a ton of blogs and articles floating around talking about resolutions to make. With all the desire to change I converted a sermon I preached entitled “4 enemies of change” into a blog post. Our greatest struggle is usually not the information or the desire but that we run into these enemies along the way that keep us from changing.
We may never admit this but we all know this to be true: Change is inevitable. You either change intentionally or you change because of inertia. The only thing you can really count on is you never stay the same.
Even our bodies are constantly changing whether intentionally through feeding them the right food and going to the gym or not. Our body will change. Some of us don’t like the changes you see. My wife attempts to point out a new grey hair each week.
If you have children you know this to be true and a part of life. I have been watching rapid physical growth of Charlotte, Graham, and Ben. They are inches taller, pounds heavier, and getting smarter and smarter each day.
At the beginning of the Bible the God of heaven introduces himself as a creator. He is the ultimate change agent. He begins by speaking and creating something into nothing. Then in the next chapter he begins to “form” things out of the dirt. He forms man from the dust of the ground.
At the heart of the gospel message is the idea of “change”. That through Jesus’ sacrifice your life can change forever and you can become a “new creation”.
Change is part of what we do. It’s built in physically and it’s built in to God’s plan spiritually. God is always placing us in a constant state of change and you can fight against the change or you can fight with the change. And as many of us know change is never cheap or easy and always comes at a price.
Change is a part of our system. Change is a part of God’s plan. And where there is something good for us there are also some pit falls or enemies of change.
Here are the 4 enemies of change:
Comfort is one of the biggest enemies of change. It keeps more people from stepping up and doing what will make them better in their life.
We like where we are. It’s what keeps you in bed as you hit the snooze button one more time, makes you skip the gym one more time, or avoid that awkward conversation you know you need to have. You are comfortable.
And Change requires us to be uncomfortable. Outside of what is normal. You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect a change. You must do something new.
Psychologist tell us the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, expecting a change.
It’s a new year and a new year requires a change. We have to change. Try something new. Take a risk. The one thing we can’t do is stay where we are. We can’t stay comfortable.
We often associate being comfortable with something as a good thing but sometimes when you are around something or someone enough they lose their position in your mind.
I will never forget in high school when I thought my mom and I were cool. She was my friend. I was very comfortable with her. I forget where we were but I called her by her name, Sueann, and in that moment I had done it. She was no longer Mom. I had become overly familiar and she lost her place. She lost her value. She didn’t lose it for very long because in moments she was saying, “Excuse me? What did you say? I am your mother no matter how old you get and don’t you forget it” Point taken…
And now I am a parent and have had Charlotte do it to me 🙂
This plays out sometimes in marriage. You overlook something important to your spouse and even though you never say it the thought that runs through your mind is, “it’s just my wife” or “it’s just my husband”…they lost all of their value because you have become to comfortable with them.
We have a tendency to do this with lots of different people. We don’t offer the respect of mr. and mrs. or ma’am and sir because that isn’t cool anymore and we all want to be comfortable with each other.
We do this with pastors, coaches, or your boss. It’s no longer “pastor” it becomes “that’s just so and so”. It’s no longer “your boss” but “that’s just Cindy or that’s just Tom”
You devalue the person because you are to close.
You get the point. There is a story in scripture where we see a man get to comfortable with God and God kills him!
This story takes place in two pieces and over 40 years. Notice the ark was placed in Uzzah’s father’s house and spent a long time there.
2 Samuel 6:2-7
“He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.”
1 Samuel 7:1-2
“So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They took it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord.”
He had the Ark in his home for years. He thought it’s just a big piece of furniture. There is nothing to this after all it has been sitting in my living room for the last 40 years. What is the big deal? God killed him for being irreverent. God had been dethroned in Uzzah’s heart.
He had gotten so comfortable that the one thing in his life designed to change it no longer could. There is a deeper more harsh lesson in here too: if you don’t change you die!
Our comfort is an enemy of change.
Our culture is buried in complacency and indifference. We just don’t care anymore. We used to be willing to give our lives to causes we believed in. Any more if it doesn’t fit into our already overbooked lives we just don’t have any time.
We have grown so complacent that in order for us to go on with life we have to either ignore the facts or lie to ourselves.
Amos 6:1-7 (NIV)
“Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation,
to whom the people of Israel come!
Go to Kalneh and look at it;
go from there to great Hamath,
and then go down to Gath in Philistia.
Are they better off than your two kingdoms?
Is their land larger than yours? You put off the day of disaster
and bring near a reign of terror.
You lie on beds adorned with ivory
and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David
and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful
and use the finest lotions,
but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
your feasting and lounging will end.”
We don’t grieve any more over lost people. We are not pained to grow more into the image of Christ. We have created slogans and bumperstickers so that we can feel good about living a complacent life.
When is the last time we wept over our city? When is the last time you were so burdened for someone you had to share the gospel with them?
The problem with most of the church is we have eaten to much and fought to little. We have been enjoying the spoils of living in a prosperous nation and it has made us complacent…indifferent.
Watch how God fixes complacency. He fixes it with exile. He takes them off into slavery because when we become so comfortable in our victory and prosperity that you forget where it comes from God is going to put you into a situation where you desperately need him again.
There must be a sense of urgency to do the will of God. A mandate from heaven that we will sacrifice, run after, do everything we can to achieve it.
A conservative estimate is that close to 4,000 churches across America will close their doors this year. A majority of churches are declining in numbers. Are we so complacent and indifferent that we would rather close our doors than change?
Practically you see this all the time with people and their health. No one makes any dietary changes or creates exercise habits until the dr wants to start them on medication or they have a serious health issue.
Complacency kills change!
3. Conflict (Unhealthy)
Unhealthy conflict is the type of conflict where two views set up opposite of one another without a willingness to compromise or move within agreement on a principle. Think our current political climate of Democrats vs Republicans. Both parties “want the best for the country” but disagree about how to get there and neither are willing to do anything worth while to move us forward unless they are steam rolling the other side.
Unhealthy conflict divides while healthy conflict creates and innovates.
If we get caught up in unhealthy conflict we will not change the world.
We see this in our marriages all the time…you spend 30 minutes arguing over something that takes 10 minutes to do. The conflict kept you from acting.
Unhealthy conflict whether by distraction or frustration will keep you from changing your life. It keeps you focused on winning a battle all the while you continue losing the war.
Unhealthy conflict keeps you focused on small picture and tangents.
Proverbs gives us some great wisdom when it comes to conflict.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”
Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and gossip separates close friends.”
An unhealthy conflict is an enemy to change.
It causes us to shy away because we don’t know what will happen. It takes lots of courage to change.
Cowardice keeps us feeling helpless and with a victim mentality. Coward’s are afraid of change. We must embrace it.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
I realize many of you are making resolutions that you may or may not keep. One of the reasons could be one of the four enemies of change. Look out for them as you enter 2016! Happy New Year!