Sunday, October 30, 2011

Learning to be Obsolete

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” (First Corinthians 15:51, NIV)

Obsolesce occurs with an alarming rate, especially in urban arenas. It happens every year in individuals, organizations, and even with one's faith. Carnality resists change, but God demands it. Obsolesce is unnatural, so contrary to the nature of God. God created us to move, to grow, to change, and yet our carnality resists God's design with a fierce determination to become obsolete. Perhaps this is why I have always enjoyed the more whimsical translation of First Corinthians 15:51 first triggered in me by a sign hanging in a church nursery. I surmise its placement by a person who knew the challenges of carry for babies and who had a sense of humor.

Why is it that we resist changing?  God created us with a temporary body.  Scripture often refers to as a “tent.”  God speaks of the brevity of life as grass that springs up in the summer rains and soon withers or dies in the heat of the day or the cold of winter.  Change means that we are a living organism; we are either changing or dying, and even in death, the remains change until there is nothing left but the earth.  God created humankind to change, to be renewed, and to become more like Him, so there is no wonder that our old nature resists change.  The new person we become in Christ seeks and requires change.  God tells us that we are to experience the renewing of our minds on our way to becoming “new” creatures; this involves change.

For those who do not like change, who do not seek change, and who resists change, I thought it appropriate to give you some ideas on how to become obsolete, so that you can have no relative purpose.

First, you must resist God’s living breathing power within your life.  No matter how much God wants you to become like Him you must resist.  This will require you to not study and accept Scripture as authoritative.  It will require you to withdraw from fellowship from the faith community.  This means that you must resist learning new songs of praise and adoration.  Furthermore, you will need to cease being a person of prayer. You cannot resist change if you are strongly into the Word and the worship of God.

Second, you must develop a mental resistance to adaptation required for change. Just make up your mind that you are not going to learn new stuff! Fight against all new ideas. If you have never done it that way before, be determined not to do it. You do not really need innovative technology, latest comforts, and up-to-the-minute gadgets. Be a trooper and draw your water from the well, or better still dip it straight out of the creek. Resist the temptation to buy a cell phone or iPad, stop learning new-fangled things, and turn off this computer as it represents that which is innovative and ever changing!

Third, you must develop an unwillingness to grow and develop. Recently, in a simple survey, I selected a group of men and women involved in a particular field and asked what books they had read in the past year to help them develop and stay current in their field of employment. Less than ten percent said they had read a single book in last twelve months related to their professional development. The other ninety percent is among the bold individuals resisting change and seeking obsolescence through unwillingness to grow and develop.

Fourth, you must resist being incarnational.  Just because God chose to put on human flesh and dwell among humanity, does not mean that you must interact with humanity.  Be an isolationist, a loner, uninvolved in society.  Give no thought to trying to make your community and world better for having lived on this planet.  Wrap yourself up in your cell phone, your iPads, and your computers and ignore the human loneliness around you.  Text people so that you do not have to talk to them.  Go through the self-checkout line in the grocery store so that you do not have to speak to a cashier.  Order everything online so that you do not have to talk to salespeople.  When you do have to deal with people, be rude and crass so that you do not represent the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

Any one of these four steps will move you toward obsolesce, and the more steps you follow the quicker you can obtain the lofty goal of being obsolete.  God wants you to “be changed” and to become a little more like Jesus every day.  So how are you doing?  Are you daily becoming more like Jesus or allowing your carnal nature to resist the power of God’s change in your life?