During the 1880’s, there was a bishop in the Brethren in Christ Church by the name of Milton Wright. Bishop Wright, a bishop in Indiana at the time, invited a guest speaker to the annual conference.
His guest, a futurist, was invited to challenge the conference of church leaders. The Bishop wanted participants to grasp the possibilities of the 20th century. His task was to capture their imagination in regard to what they could expect by the turn of the century.
Bishop Wright was so impressed with the presentation, he invited his guest to dinner. He wanted to hear more about the possibilities. It was during dinner that the Bishop asked his guest to tell him one thing they all could expect by the turn of the century.
The futurist replied, “In the 20th century, human beings will fly.”
It is reported that Bishop Wright said, “Heavier than air flight is impossible and contrary to the will of God.” He dismissed the statement and went on to conclude the conversation with his guest.
After the annual conference session, Bishop Wright went home to be with his family, his two sons, Orville and Wilber.
There are three things we can take from this story.
- A power right (Wright) can sometimes be wrong.
- Your children will always change your vision.
- Just because you have not perceived it does not mean it is not true.
A powerful right can sometimes be wrong.
The world is changing rapidly.
These changes are shaping our values in regard to how we define family, live our faith, gain knowledge, and understand science. Because of the speed and complexity of these changes, the church is being left behind as a quaint spiritual artifact and dusty theological antique.
We are living in an open arena of competing values and counter-Christian views. What options are open to us in regard to making a missional impact in our communities and the world?
Peter Drucker, in his book Management Challenges for the 21st Century, writes:
“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time is written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event those historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time—literally—substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.”
The world, into which we are called to share the good news, is a world of choices. This world of choices is shaped and directed by our values, by what we hold to be important. To say it another way, our values shape, not only our understanding of the world, but our understanding of the people of the world.
The question I have is, “Who or what shapes our values?”
Your children will always change your vision.
The events over the past several weeks reveal how our children are, once again, changing what has seemed unchangeable. If I may be so bold, those who seem to be the powerful decision-makers of our country, those who have been unable to make the necessary changes in regard to gun safety, are being challenged by a growing number of teenagers to address the issue.
As unthinkable as it might seem, it was nine teenagers in Little Rock, Arkansas, who were used to challenge the evil of segregation. In 1957, nine teenagers, chosen from the top of their class, were led by armed guards through an angry mob yelling insults and throwing rocks.
It was our children who challenged a powerful right, which was wrong.
Today, a growing multitude of teenagers are challenging another powerful right. I pray that God will use them to change our vision.
Just because you have not perceived it does not mean it is not true.
Some of us will remember standing up in the front seat of the car as it sped down the highway. I grew up that way. There were no seat belts, much less seat belt laws. There were few, if any, car seats for children.
It was not until 1972, the year that I graduated from high school, that seat belts began to be mass produced and placed in the automobiles. Most of us couldn’t imagine that one day all automobiles would have seat belts, air bags, and be tested for safety.
It was beyond the imagination of most of us that it would be illegal for children to ride in the front seat of the car, much less stand on the front seat between two adults.
The same can be said for the telephone, microwave, medical treatments, social media, etc. Just because we not perceived it or imagined it does not mean it is not real.
The world is changing rapidly. These changes are setting up conflicting values in our culture. So, how do we strengthen our values in regard to making a missional impact in our communities and the world?
One way is to get real. We can begin to take advantage of the changes and adapt to the rapid change that too often holds us hostage.
One of the prayers I have been praying during this Lenten Season is, “O God, make me who I need to be for the pastors and churches of the Capitol Area South District.”
For me, this prayer is focused on being transformed into the human being, leader, district superintendent that you need to do your work as Christ-followers in the communities in which you serve.
Let’s get real.
What would happen if you began to pray a similar prayer for your family, your work, your community, or your church?
“O God, make me the parent I need to be for my children.” O God, make the colleague I need to be for my co-workers.” ” O God, make me the leader I need to be for my community or for my church.”
Let’s get real.
What would happen if you established a pattern of reading the scripture, reflecting upon that scripture, and responding in some way to that scripture every day?
Let’s consider what would happen if you invited two or three other persons to join with you in this daily pattern and engaging in conversation in regard to what you are experiencing and learning? What would happen if you began to focus your life on the Christian values those scriptures direct you?
If prayer moves us to action, we will get real about the values you and I hold as Christ-followers. Our values will not be threatened. Our values will be strengthened.
The changes we’re experiencing just may become opportunities to shape the future with hope.
Being Christian in today’s world is different than being Christian in the world in which I was born. But that difference is the opportunity to become who God needs and wants us to be for the world today.
Let’s get real and face the challenges with the hope. Let our focus on Jesus lead us into a world that we have yet to imagine or perceive.
Ready to Get Real?