Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the theology of change

Darryl and Casey are missionaries to South Africa.  They blessed our church this past Sunday by sharing their life, their call, and their mission.  He preached out of 1 Corinthian 9:19-23:  serving all men.  I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  He stated that "what got us here, won't get us there."

People have a difficult time surrendering their 'rights' (ex:  a preferred version of the Bible) for the sake of reaching people for Christ.  They are not willing to become 'uncomfortable' for the sake of the gospel.  They are not interested in 'changing' their behavior/likes/dislikes to have the ability to reach out to the lost.  They don't understand where their community is going, and if they do, they feel that it is not necessary to 'go with the flow' of the community.  They waste precious time 'discussing' and 'bickering' with each other.  

Please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying to go against your convictions or to blatantly disobey the commands of God.  The end does not justify the means.  I'm just asking you to re-evaluate.  Are your convictions REALLY convictions?  Or are they simply strong preferences?

It seems that people get 'stuck' doing things because that's what they're used to doing. Yet, they do not understand why they are doing them.  Or better yet, why they even believe what they believe.

The following is a powerful illustration Darryl used to help explain an all too familiar scenario in our churches:

This story is about an experiment which a group of scientists conducted. The setup of the experiment was quite simple. There where five monkeys kept in a cage, with a ladder kept in the middle of the cage. A bunch of bananas were kept on top of the ladder.

Now, the moment monkeys saw the banana on top, they tried to climb up the ladder and grab the banana. The moment any monkey tried going up the ladder, the scientists would shower freezing cold water on rest of the four monkeys.

After a few cold showers, the monkeys understood that they are subjected to the cold showers only when any of them try to go up the ladder. So next time any monkey tried going up the ladder, the rest of them would beat him black and blue.

After several beatings, every monkey gave up tried going up the ladder, even after having the temptation of the bunch of bananas right in front of their eyes.

Now the scientists brought a change in the setup. A monkey from the set of five, was replaced with a new monkey. This new monkey, the moment saw the bunch of bananas, tried to go up the ladder and grab it.

Upon this, as per the usual practice, the rest of the four monkeys gave him a severe beating.  After a couple of such beatings, the new monkey also gave up trying going up the ladder and grab the bananas, without ever knowing why he was being beaten for going up the ladder and grabbing the bananas.

Now the scientists made more changes and replaced one of the old four monkeys with a new one. This time, the same as the last time, the first thing the new monkey did was to try going up the ladder and grab the banana.  But upon this, he was severely bashed. 

This time, even our last replaced monkey, joined in beating the new monkey. Neither the new monkey knew why he was being beaten on trying to go up the ladder, nor our last replaced monkey knew why he is beating the new monkey on trying to climb up the ladder.

Going ahead with the experiment, the scientists kept replacing old monkeys with new ones and every time the beating  was repeated.

After some time what was left was a group of five monkeys who never received a cold shower but which never tried climbing up the ladder to grab the bananas.  They also kept beating any monkey who tried climbing up the ladder to grab the bananas.

If it was ever possible to ask these five monkeys why they beat any other monkey who try to go up the ladder and grab the bananas, I'm sure the answer would be... 
I don't know... but that's how things are done around here!
In our churches, we encounter people, who throw their solid fist on you every time you try to go up the ladder, without any justifiable reason or point.  We have a choice... either we can continue being a monkey and go on with bashing and beating.. or stop being one and start climbing the up the ladder.

To what extent are you willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel?  Where is your community going?  What things might you need to change?  How can you be all things to all men today?  What do you believe and why?


  1. wow that definitely left me with a lot to think about... thanks for sharing

  2. Your welcome! It's definitely an area in which I struggle. And it leaves me thinking, too! Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon! =)


Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul. -Unknown