Change. It’s happening all the time, and sometimes very rapidly. Some of us thrive in that environment, but most of us struggle when there is too much of it too quickly. These last 18 months have seen massive change affecting every one of us as a result of Brexit and Covid 19, to say nothing of the impact of climate change or the inevitable change coming our way as a result of international power struggles.
Given that we face a very uncertain (and at times fear filled) future, it is so important to see that change is at the very heart of Scripture. From the catastrophic change in the relationship between God and the human race in Genesis to the new heaven and the new earth in Revelation; from the deliverance of God’s people from Egypt to the deliverance of God’s people through the cross and resurrection of Christ; from the fear filled disciples in John 20 to the confident proclamation of the Gospel in Acts; from the persecution of Christians by Saul to the fearless ambassador for Christ in the Apostle Paul.
And at a personal level, coming to faith in Christ is unambiguously described in Scripture as change on a very big scale: If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5.17)
We may long for a return to ‘normality’ – as we understand it – but we must recognise that the status quo is not usually a fertile environment for us to spiritually grow. Equally, we do not mature well during prosperity. Our growth most often occurs in adversity or when God brings changes for our own good that uproot us physically or spiritually.
In our work at Contemporary Christianity, we are embarking on a substantial series of PS (Public Square) blogs that will explore the impact of ongoing change and offer some thoughts on how Christian people might respond. The range of subjects will be very wide since almost every area of life is subject to the many drivers of change – economic, cultural, political, ethical, – and they come to us in many ways. Social media is a prime means of influencing behaviour and changing attitudes; economics is a major cause of both increasing poverty and increasing wealth; pressure groups of all kinds are seeking to re-write our understanding of our past, and parliaments are increasingly passing laws that impose new standards on the patterns of everyday life, whether we like it or not.
Our first subject on this theme of ‘Change’, (about which we will post a blog next week), is on the significance of the major United Nations climate change conference being held in Glasgow early in November.
For nearly thirty years the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. This year will be the 26th annual summit – thus the name COP26.
There are no easy answers to many of the questions that will emerge on this subject or indeed any other. Future blogs will, for example, explore the huge changes in the world of work and what the church needs to learn from the Covid pandemic. A key part of our vision is to encourage our readers to offer their own comments on each blog – provided that those are thoughtful, are not aggressive and are respectful of the view of others. In a word, we want to think through these issues together with our readers and subscribers, in the expectation that we can find a worthwhile Christian response to bring to the wider public debate.
We invite you to join us on this reflective and exploratory journey!
Very Rev Dr Norman Hamilton is a retired Presbyterian minister, former Moderator of the General Assembly, and Chair of Contemporary Christianity.
Please note that the statements and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.