preacherman

Monday, September 03, 2007

Jesus, The First Change Agent

I don't know about you, but I hear about those in the brotherhood attacking preachers who have ideas that might change many of the traditions with which we are familiar. Those who protest often think these traditions are perfect and should not be "messed with" even if those ideas for change might cause growth, grace, love and mercy in the body of Christ.

I believe attacking preachers for having new, scriptural ideas causes dissension within the body of Christ. We need to remember that God hates dissension and divisions. He wants us to love each other as Christians. The world will know us by our love. We need to understand that Jesus Christ Himself was the very first "change agent."

He changed the lives of the twelve men that he chose to be his disciples.

In "The Sermon on the Mount," Jesus "changes" the law adding heart to it. For example, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28. NIV
What a change that was for the culture to hear.

Jesus changed the Sabbath as He and His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.

Jesus changed countless lives as He healed during the three years of His ministry. Not only that, but offering many of those who needed healing, freedom from demon possession and forgiveness from sin as well.

He changed the life of an adulteress woman at the well and a woman caught in the act of adultery as He offers them forgiveness and a new life.

He changed the life of a man named Paul.

He was willing to go the to the cross, died and rose on the third day. Now the entire world has been changed because of what Jesus has done.

He changes hearts.

Ephesians 2:1-9: "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been save through faith- and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God- not by works so that no one can boast. "

The Christians and churches who use these words "change agent,are those who love to cause fights, dissension and discord within the body of Christ. These people who use the words "change agent" seem to think think they are perfect, needing no change whatsoever in their churches, lives, and are extremely judgemental towards churches that preach grace, mercy, love, hope to the world who needs Jesus Christ.

As Christians, we should always be growing in our faith and relationship with God. We should always be changing and growing in our faith. If you examine your faith it shouldn't be the same as when you became a Christian initially.

If a seedling sprouts, but never grows beyond its small size, what good is it? It will never produce the fruit which it was intended to produce. If it stays small, it will soon wither and die because it is not using the nutrients in the soil around it. So too are those who assume change is always a bad thing. Growth requires change.

Rather than labeling any change as negative, let's examine it against scripture before we toss it out and along with it, the people who dared to speak up.

So, what do you think when you hear the words "change agent"? Did you ever think of Jesus as a "change agent"? Do you think the people who use the words "change agent" are trying to cause fights within the church? Why or why not? Can we ignore the words "change agent" by understanding that they cause divisions? How can we strive for unity within the church by understanding our individual role as "change agents" within the world just as Jesus has called us? How does it make you feel knowing that Jesus was the first "change agent"? How has Jesus changed your life?

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

45 Comments:

Blogger Royce Ogle said...

Preacherman,

I am a card carrying "change agent" according to some. I sure hope I can help to affect change.

Change for the sake of change is useless. But, change from error to truth, or from ineffectiveness to effectiveness has great worth.

I think your point that Jesus was the first change agent is well made. He changed the status quo in a big way.

I am guilty of trying to get people to trust Christ alone for salvation. Thats it, but that gets under the skin of the legalists. Sad but true.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

3:24 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

i have not heard of a change agent being in the body of Christ, except for the Holy Spirit that is. there are continal changes being made within us. also, those in the body are constantly under attack, it is to be expected. God's Love will work through us upon those who oppose Him or His ways.

4:05 PM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

We need only examine the life of Christ to know that if we're not "change agents," then we are agents of Hell. Show me one case, one instance where Jesus praised someone for not changing or criticized someone for changing. We need only read the "Parable of the Talents" to understand this.

In fact, we need only examine our own short history as a religious movement to see how we have changed as a whole on topics such as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, segregation, and divorce and remarriage. Somewhere there were "change agents" who cried out that viewing the Holy Spirit as a "retired author" was false doctrine. Somewhere there were "change agents" to taught that using the Bible to justify segregating the races was false doctrine and thank God for men, "change agents" like Olan Hicks who helped us to see that forbidding marriage to those who have been divorced is Biblically wrong.

I'll throw my card in with Royce because the alternative is separation from God.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Kinney, thank you for stopping by my blog and your kind words. I think I've seen you posting at Mike's blog too (if you're the same preacherman!).

As for your post, I am constantly being changed by Jesus. These past couple of years I have been challenged to read Jesus' words and to look at his life in a whole new light. And I'm still recovering.

10:36 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Amy,
I am the same preacherman that comments on Mike Cope's blog. I am glad that reading God's word and looking at Christianity in a whole new light. I will continue to pray for your recovery and your are always welcome to add your thoughts on this blog.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Monalea said...

Preacherman,
I have never heard the word 'change agent,' not sure if I have missed something or not.

I did really like this part of your blog....."Rather than labeling any change as negative, let's examine it against scripture before we toss it out and along with it, the people who dared to speak up"

Monalea

11:55 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

First thanks for stopping by. It is not often we get a man joining in in our little area of blogdom.
I come from a Baptist background--generations back.
I now belong to a little Baptist church out in the country. We are in the middle of some big changes since we made a God decision not to follow man but God and His word.
We are in the middle of a month of fasting and praying as a church about a decision to leave the Baptist denomination. When I first arrived at this church 6 years ago this would not even have entered most of our minds. God is seriously in the process of destroying the box our denomination put Him in. He is the same yesterday, today and forever more. And that should make you want to shout!
Change is good--if where you have been has not been lining up perfectly with the word of God and all that He has to offer.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Mike Miller said...

Where there is no change, there is no life; spiritually or otherwise.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I am always for positive change in a congregation. I remember the days that we would rebuke those that placed tradition above the Bible. What has happened to us.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Jason Campbell said...

Wow, you've posted a powerful series of thoughts up here, thanks for the good grist.

As a church planter arising out of the ranks of the churches of Christ, this is something that pops up in different ways than in a traditional congregation. But in talking with my mentors, friends, and coaches that are connected with established churches, I often overhear this kind of friction.

So much of this has to do with a kind of ecclesiology that enshrines a set of cultural practices as canon, rather than placing commitment to the things Jesus was committed to as of first importance. Aside from practices that are core to a disciple's participation in the gospel (like baptism and communion), there is a lot of room for adaptation for the effective and powerful proclamation of the gospel.

Having said that, I agree with other commenters that say that change for change's sake is rarely healthy, being the imposition of one person's preferences on a group of competing preferences. This ought never to happen among Christians, who should be in the business of laying down their preferences at the foot of the cross for the sake of those who do not yet know how to lay down their preferences: i.e., lost people.

Bring forth the Spirit-empowered change agents! May God send them to change the face of the world as we partner with Him in Kingdom-work!

12:15 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Like Royce, I think that change for change's sake is useless. But I think that one of the most mis-interpreted passages of scripture is, "God is the same yesterday, today and forever". I just quoted that off the top of my head, so I know I probably didn't get it word for word. But back to my point.

Yes, the character of God is always the same, but God's methods change. Just look at the Old Testament. I mean, had he shown His divine will completely to Moses and Abraham and others, they most likely would've been so overwhelmed.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

People need to know the basis for their salvation. When Satan tries to confuse us, we need to be able to go back to the basic tenets that show we are saved. I think some people do that by reviewing all the doctrines they believe and practice, and re-convincing themselves that they are right after all. Change forces them to consider the question, what if some other view is right? Bottom line, it takes away a feeling of security from people who (I think) base their security on the wrong things.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

preacherman:

Change for change's sake...bad.

Change for Jesus' sake...good.

Colossians tells us to avoid getting caught up in the foolish traditions of man, something far too many churches (and/or members) are stuck to.

We need to be changing TOWARD the Word of God.

Good post!

7:04 PM  
Blogger jel said...

thanks for stopping by!

8:27 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Good post, Preacherman. I agree that we need to be open to the changes that Jesus wants to make in our lives.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Neva said...

Being a social worker, I have heard the old joke many times,
"how many social workers does it take to change a lightbulb---one but only if the lightbulb really wants to change" Until we WANT to change, we won't. Jesus will not force himself upon us. Until the world wants to change, it won't --we cannot force our faith upon them. The status quo was ready for a change when Jesus came upon the scene--at least some of them were.The others were not changed by Him.
IMO

Peace
Neva

11:19 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

I have heard this term a lot lately, and have even been branded one recently...and have been thinking along many of the same lines. Jesus really was an agent of change, and in a good and positive way-He has definitely changed my life in mighty and powerful ways, and I am so incredibly thankful that He has the power to change my life and the hearts of His people.

I wish this was not a negative line of thought, but that we could all be able to look at each other as Christians trying to be like Christ and share Him with the world-rather than sow discord among ourselves. After all, did He not pray that we would all be one?!

Thank you so much for your thoughts-what a great post!! :) Blessings~

1:56 AM  
Blogger AncientWanderer said...

Preacherman-
I agree 100%.

But the problem is that we have too many brethren that forget Jesus (the Change Agent) is also the Alpha & the Omega.

In other words the first and last change agent. The Change Agent of change agents. Too many brethren are trying to be successors to Christ rather than followers.

Good Post

11:05 AM  
Blogger Luke said...

"I believe attacking preachers for having new, scriptural ideas causes dissension within the body of Christ."

Although I am not a brander of "change agents" myself, I would assume that such people would agree with you...they would just take issue with some of the new ideas being classified as "scriptural".

12:18 PM  
Blogger Darin L. Hamm said...

When we forget that He is the bread of life bad things always happen.

3:29 PM  
Blogger dbbjavance said...

Good thoughts and comments. It's too bad a useful concept was vested with a negative meaning. We do need the change agents that educate others of the sins of sectarianism, and show the way of Jesus, the foremost change agent. In respect to my own heritage (restoration), I stand in loyal dissent; for I am against the sectarian system, but supportive of the ideal that should lead us to follow Jesus. -- Bryan

6:29 PM  
Blogger photowannabe said...

I have never heard that term either but the Church has a lot of dooms day naysayers.
When we moved 2 months ago besides gaining a new home we gained a new church. Many from our old church couldn't understand our move and said being in a mega church wouldn't be good with no personal discipleship and that we would get lost in it. Hubby and I are change agents. We're happy active in the Lords work in a vital growing serving church. I believe one gets lost in any size church when one wants to get lost. Its up to the person to change and move on. Change can be hard but it is good if the Lord is directing it.

10:27 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Royce,
I am sure you can affect good change brother. I agree that change for change sake is useless. I do believe that the Lord's church needs to change to meet the needs of those who need Jesus and who are lost in adapt to the 21st century. In ministry I have found it true that the legalist use this word "change agent" to attact those who are trying to make a difference in the kindgom of God or change traditions that they see as sacred.

11:30 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Josh,
Yes, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever." But we aren't perfect. We need Change. A lot of people see change as a bad thing. Change can be a great thing that can be used to glorify God and bring people to Him, even though God never changes we do.

11:34 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Mike Miller,
You are hitting the point I am trying to make.

11:35 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

AW,
You are right on the money.
Great points brother.

11:37 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

The question I have is it unchristian for others (Christians) to label preachers as Change agents?

11:38 PM  
Blogger David Kirk said...

I think you are right. A bunch of people are just trying to stir up fights in the body of Christ by attaching labels to people!

11:56 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

"Is it unChristian for others (Christians) to label preachers as change agents?" Sometimes. Sometimes not. Once in a while, a genuine false teacher arises (one who does not respect God or his word), but it is hard to get anyone to believe it because we have cried "wolf" too often.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Embracing change is very difficult and I think that is why many people are attracted to churches that don't change.

I know what you are saying about those who cause divisions ... it is why I try to stay away from squawk radio.

Blessings, Bob

4:51 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Terry,
Your make a point.
There are some men who are false preachers that teach false doctrine. As mentioned in the Timothy letters having a form of godliness but denying its power. Those who strive to cause fights, and division in the Lord's church. I believe we need to understand that change as Christian is good if it is good Change. If it is godly change. If it is according to the will and desire of God. If it is a change that will glorify God. Sometimes so many Christians get comfortable and forget that Christ desires us to get out of our comfort zones and grow in our faith and relationship with Him. He desires that we reach out to others that are different than we are, people who may have different personality, different backgrounds, different family make-ups, different cultures, come from different situations in life. Terry great point brother. I always appreciate your thoughts.

9:20 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

David Kirk,
I always appreciate you stopping by and adding your comments to this blog you are so right. I know God hates it and churches suffer because of it. I want you to know you are welcome any time one this blog. I hope you have a blessed weekend.

9:25 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Kansas Bob,
I totally agree.
Many people don't like change.
They like thing as they have always have been. Doing things Sunday after Sunday. Year after year. Going through the motions of the act of worship. No change. I think of something is going to cause division we need to remember who's church it is; The Lord.
On the other hand Jesus wants us to grow as Christians. He longs for us to grow in our relationship with Him. He want us to change from the life we once lived to the a Christ centered life of faith, live, grace, mercy, peace, honesty, and other characteristics of God. (Eph 5:1). He wants us to be holy. He wants us to be the light and salt of the earth. He wants us to make a differnce in the world. And to do that take a change on our part. In our priorities and lives. Kansas Bob, I always appreciate you stopping by adding your thoughts to the discussion. I just hope the church is willing to become the Church that God wants us to be in the 21st century and I believe that takes changing our focus off our I, and more on Christ. Less on programs and more on seeking the lost in an answering the questions and dealing with the have in an authentic way. It might take us showing the world that we aren't cookie cutter Christians and how God changes lives.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Goof stuff about change and the church PM. Ever heard this:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. -Benjamin Franklin.

Seems an accurate description of many of our church activities :)

9:45 AM  
Blogger Adam Gonnerman said...

Coming from the independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, I had never heard the term "change agent" until I came into contact with the a cappella Church of Christ. There are now some very conservative members of Christian churches that use this term, borrowed from Church of Christ brethren, and it is applied to the very evangelical Christian Standard and others of like mindset.

Ellen Glasgow said “All change is not growth; as all movement is not forward,” and I'd have to agree with her. It's great to be a change agent, if you are changing in the right direction. The trouble I've seen with many churches is that they are static. At Harding I even had a professor who said he hadn't changed his mind about anything in decades. That's just sick.

4:24 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Adam,
Great point.
Your thoughts are right on target.
I totally agree.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Chance said...

"I believe attacking preachers for having new, scriptural ideas causes dissension within the body of Christ. "

I think "scriptural" is the key word. As I'm sure you would agree with me, when somebody starts talking about new ideas that are contrary to scripture that is when we should be worried. But Scriptural ideas always promote a need to change. That is what Christianity is about.

11:59 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Chance,
Thanks for your thoughts and adding to the discussion. I always apprciate your opinions.

10:34 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I hope that the Church of Christ in the future won't we so quick in the future to label, but look a change as some that each one of us must go through as as Christians. We must always remember that Christ was the first change agent and desire change within us as His people.

Just because the "identity of the Church may change" doesn't mean that it is bad thing. The Church over the years has change. The older generation needs to understand needs to understand that the change that is taking place in many churches are great. It is the the function of the 1st century being lived out in the lives in 21st century Christians. It is the church being coming relevant to the culture in which we live today. May God be glorified as we seek "His" will for our lives.

10:40 PM  
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