When it comes to change, far too many of us are like the old fellow who had just reached his 100th birthday and was being interviewed by a young reporter. The reporter said, “Wow, you’ve seen an awful lot of changes in your 100 years haven’t you!” “Yep,” grunted the old geezer, “and I been against every one of them!”
Like the old man, we must clearly understand that it’s not enough to just be against, protest, boycott, or fix blame for what is happening in every institution of our country. The old adage that you can’t beat something with nothing is true.
Despite knowing that real change is needed, most Americans have come to trust in Big Government to effect those changes instead of in a BIG GOD, whose infallible Word provides the blueprints of absolute truth that alone can bring real and lasting change.
Dr. George Grant correctly asserts the position of most Christians until recent years: “For more than a century, we were oblivious to the onslaught of godless humanism that consumed our courts, our media outlets, our schools, our medical facilities, our entertainment centers, and our civil structures in a tidal wave of debauchery and corruption. We were content to hide behind the walls of the evangelical ghetto, blissfully ignorant of the battle that was raging for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“But then suddenly we emerged from our cultural monasticism. And in a mad dash to right the wrongs, a lot of mistakes have been made. We were anxious, but inexperienced; passionate, but unschooled; zealous, but unprepared. We were available, but unable. Still, we’ve made a difference.”
George is right. However, we are still yet to learn that it is not enough to try and force change by voting out the liberals and voting in the conservatives on a national level. We have done this and the more things change the more they remain the same! Change must take place at personal, local, grassroots levels and not just in Washington. “When the Christian community tries to solve national problems without first solving neighborhood and city problems, they only reinforce the centralizing of power”(Dennis Peacocke).
What is the key to true and lasting change? The following are five key principles of sound, scriptural and successful change for personal natures and nations:
(1) Change must begin in self-government under God’s government.
Men who can’t govern themselves can’t govern others.
Corrupt civil governments are a reflection of corrupt individuals. Self‑government under God’s government is the basis for all other forms of government (family, church, civil, and market-place government). Men who fear only God and who know that He rules over every detail of their lives and world, do not need the coercive power of civil government to cause them to live responsibly.
(2) Change must work from the inside out, both individually and institutionally.
Real and lasting change begins by getting things right in the heart. The civil government can take people out of the slums, but only Christ can take the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The civil government can only mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The government can shape human behavior, but Christ changes human nature.
(3) Change must progress from the local, to the national, to the international, i.e., from the bottom up, not the top down.
Only two vocations begin at the top and start down — grave-digging and well-digging — everything else begins at the bottom and works its way up. God’s training begins where we are in the material world with the responsibility to develop dependability with the natural, not spiritual things. God’s greatest leaders are birthed and trained in sheepfolds (David) and cow stables (Jesus) in remote villages like Bethlehem in Judea.
(4) Change must be comprehensive, affecting every aspect of life, and must come into alignment with the Lord and Laws of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christ, the Head of the Church calls her to the task of serving. God’s people have failed to realize that whomever serves the people also has the allegiance of the people. When people are needy, lonely, hungry, hurting, desperate, they seek for someone or something that will help them resolve their difficulties and meet their needs. Early in our nation’s history it was the Church that operated the hospitals, the orphanages, the rescue missions; that served as the welfare arm of the community; that founded the schools and conducted almost the entire educational process. Until the church assumes her duties as a servant to the poor, the homeless, the broken, the aged, the unborn, the unwed mothers, the abused, the handicapped, the needy, etc., she will not experience the blessings of God nor the respect of men. Instead she will be treated as salt that has lost its savor which is fit only to be trodden upon by the heavy boot of a tyrannical government that has assumed the role of Savior
(5) Change must be affected by the godly stewardship of servant leaders, not by tyrannical take-overs.
True and life-impacting leadership begins by learning to be faithful in doing little things so that we can be trusted to be faithful in great things. Jesus said it this way: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much”(Luke 16:10)
Dennis Rainey notes, “What we want today is the much more without the very little. We want the tip without the toil, the gain without the grind, the sweets without the sweat, the prize without the pain, and the perks without the perseverance. Today, duty, diligence, hard work, and attention to details are a rare commodity in any endeavor — whether it be at home, at work, or at church.”
Tim Keller sums up the key to true change as he writes: “The good news we call the “gospel” is not just about individual happiness and fulfillment. It is not just a wonderful plan for ‘my life’ but a wonderful plan for the world. It is about the coming of God’s kingdom to renew everything.”
It’s time to implement real change because we see in, by, and from, the light of God’s truth, and not because we feel the heat of His judgment!
Wade Trimmer has been in full-time Christian service since 1971, thirty-five of those years as a senior pastor. He pastored Grace Fellowship of Augusta for 30 of those years.
In 2008, Pastor Wade formed Training for Reigning Institute of Disciple-making, a non-profit organization, for the purpose of equipping leaders, especially in Third World countries in being more effective in carrying out the Great Commission (Visit our website: TRIDM.org). The past 9 years have taken Pastor Wade outside the USA to more than 25 different nations.
He is the author of 46 books, a conference speaker and leader of international mission’s training. He is married to Anne and they have three grown children, five grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. They are members of Grace Fellowship of Augusta, Georgia and make their home in North Augusta, South Carolina.