BRADY COLUMN: Things that don’t need to change

Published 9:30 am Friday, September 2, 2022

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A well-known minister in one of our largest United Methodist Churches said that when he was in seminary over 15 or so years ago the watchword was, “Change the world.” “Today,” he said, “the question is ‘What do we do when the world changes?”  Yes, time does change things, sometimes dramatically. Professions change, styles change, expectations change, communication systems change, how we relate to people changes, education changes and on and on it goes.

But somethings have no business changing.  The biblical writer of James says, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Although we often give the appearance of security, our lives are marked by uncertainty, adversity and brevity. Therefore, we need perspective, and relating with God gives us that perspective.  As I said, some things have no business changing. Let’s focus on some of those unchanging things.

First, personal integrity! In a play by Channing Pollock, I recall the characters, Archie and Jennifer. Archie is home now, tired. He had been down in the village trying to stand against the pressure to do an unethical thing concerning a housing project.  He did not give in. He was told by the man who despised him because he would not cooperate, that he was a “little man.”

Now, seated beside Jennifer he says, “I’m not a big man, Jen.” Jennifer asks, “What is a big man, Archie?” He replies, “Henry Ford.” Jennifer says, “No Archie. A big man is a man who keeps his word.”  Keep your word. Keep your principles. Keep your soul. Personal integrity! Some things don’t need to change.

Second, wholesome thoughts!  The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  I consider this verse to be one of the most important verses in all scripture. You see, what we think about today determines who we are and what we become in life. Our thoughts are the thermostat that regulates negative defeat or vitality and victory. We become what we think about.

Third, love for family! Psychologist William James observed, “In every person from the cradle to the grave, there is a deep craving to be appreciated.” Feeling appreciated brings out the best in people.  And when that appreciation comes in the home by way of acceptance, love and encouragement the bonds between family members grow firm and secure. God intends that homes be places of “supportive environment.”

Fourth, authentic servanthood! “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That’s a question we enjoy asking children. And their answers are always fascinating.  Let’s imagine asking Jesus what he wants us to be when we grow up. Suddenly, it’s a whole new question. I honestly believe he would give the same answer to everyone of us. “I want you to be different-to be a servant.”  Authentic servanthood! Some things have no business changing.

Lastly, living life to the Glory of God! Our lives, whatever they are, whatever they are going to be, whatever our circumstances are intended to “billboard” God’s faithfulness. That was Israel’s calling and that is our calling as people of God. 

We know God to make God known.  When he was up in years, William Barclay said something that was probably one of the best quotations ever spoken outside the Bible. He said, “I’m an old man. I have lived a long time,  and over the years, I have learned that there are very few things in life that really matter, but those few things matter intensely.” And one of those things is Living Life to the Glory of God.

For sure, times must change! But at the same time, there are some things that have no business changing.