Does it appear to you that all of us are embroiled in that ongoing conflict between the old and the new?  Sometimes it seems that nothing ever stays the same.  Everything around us is in a constant state of transition.  The world is changing; our community changes; our home changes; the Church changes; even we, ourselves, change.  If you don’t believe that, well, go dig out an old high school or college picture.  Take a look at yourself then and compare it with the way you look now.

Change is a fact of life.  So, what does this mean to you and me?  Here in this first part of the 21st century with more than 2000 years of Christian history behind us, what have we learned?

There is comfort in knowing that we are not the first generation to be caught in this conflict between the old and the new.  But it’s easy to lose sight of that truth.  Sometimes it seems that all of the change and all of the agitation for change that has ever taken place in the history of the world is going on right now.  First, look at the racial struggle, the ever-increasing demand of minorities that their voices be heard, the energy shortage, the escalation of prices, the rise of new nations, voices of dissent within the Church, ethnic cleansing, the questioning of ideas and practices that have been accepted for centuries.

All of this and more is taking place in your lifetime and mine.  It would be easy indeed for us to get the notion that change is the peculiar problem of our present period of history.  But a little honest reflection will assure us that such is not the case.  This kind of thing has been going on for a very long time.  Every generation and every individual who has lived creatively and accomplished anything worthwhile has had to cope with the problems and challenges of change.  Jesus Himself had to deal with it.  He was constantly criticized for His refusal to conform to the status quo.  Moses had to deal with it when he led the people out of Egypt and tried to mold them into a nation.  Abraham had to deal with it when he left his homeland and set out in search of a new tomorrow.  Even Adam and Eve had to deal with it when they were driven from the   garden into a world of new problems to solve and new difficulties to overcome.

It certainly isn’t easy to keep one’s balance in the midst of continual and sometimes accelerated change.  The human tendency is to over-react in one direction or the other.  Some move all the way to the left and seek change for the sake of change.  The assumption is that every new idea is a true idea and every change is a change for the better.

That position, of course, is absurd.  Things can change for the worse just as surely as they can change for the better.  Some ideas have gotten to be old ideas because they are true and difficult, if not impossible, to improve upon.  Change for the sake of change is not the solution to our problem.

The opposite extreme is to jump in the ditch on the right side of the road and try to keep everything just the way it is.  Behind this position is the assumption that we have already discovered all the truth and have implemented all the best solutions to all the problems.  Of course, we all know that isn’t the case; but sometimes, in our unqualified resistance to change, we act as if it were.

What we need to remember is that an idea is not necessarily true just because it’s new, but neither is it true because it’s old.  All of which means that we should be very careful about holding on to ideas just because they are old and familiar and widely accepted.  Our Lord certainly did not dislike the past; but He did refuse to be bound by traditions, however ancient and revered they might be.

That, for us, is an example of where we should stand in this modern struggle between the new and the old.  Don’t give yourself in blind devotion to either one.  Our commitment must ever be to the eternal truth of God as revealed in Jesus and by the guidance of His Holy Spirit.  That will require of us minds that are both open and active, a spirit of adventure tempered with a spirit of obedience.  Let us not be too quick to cast aside the old – but let us not be afraid to move with Jesus into a new day with new experiences and a new   understanding of the truth.

We should not rush out to meet change with empty heads and shallow hearts, but neither should we be afraid of it.  Until that day when we have perfectly aligned our ways with God’s will, change will remain a necessary part of our lives.