About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
Challenge Of Change
I'm seventy one years
old and have just shovelled large frozen chunks of heavy ice and snow that
the city's road snowplough pushed into the entrance of our driveway.
Someday, I'll be too old for this.
As reluctant as I'll be, I'll have to face this new season of my
life and hand the snow shovelling over to another.
With the inevitability of change in a life in mind, read Romans
"But now that there
is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been
longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain."
Around 57 AD, while in Corinth, Paul realized that there was no more place available for him to work in
and around Corinth. He would then visit the
Roman Christians, as was his desire. Might
this change in Paul's ministry have any significance for us?
The Greek word "topos"
is translated into English as "place" in Romans 15:23. We
derive our English word "topographical" from this Greek word.
Topos suggests a space, like a room or a geographical region, and
can be used in either literal or metamorphic terms.
Topos is translated as "opportunity" in Acts 25:16 where
Paul said that he had no legal opportunity to defend himself.
Paul was an apostle.
He would have naturally felt compelled to move on to further fields
when a door of ministry had closed. I
get that, but I think there might be more than a natural inclination going
on here. Paul realized that a
ministerial change was underway. What
door of ministry would open for him next?
Whether it's an
individual or a local expression of church, seasonal ministry changes, for
various reasons, are par for the ministerial course.
We saw this with Paul when Jesus redirected his travel plans by
sending him to
It's a natural law of
the universe that all aspects of life, including Christian ministry,
undergoe seasonal changes that require a seasonal reboot.
I'm not talking about our unbiblical practice of floating around
from one church community to another at a whim just to gratify our
ever-changing personal preferences. I'm
also not talking about changing ministry directions to follow the latest
church growth fad. I'm talking
about adapting to change imposed on us from without that demands an
appropriate Biblical response.
Paul's ministerial door
had closed. A new door of
ministry was opening, but it wasn't that God stepped in and redirected his plans, as seen in Acts 16.
This new door opened the way for Paul to follow his long-standing
heart's desire to visit the Roman Christians.
Here is what I learn
from Romans 15:23. Seasonal
changes in all aspects of God's creation are a universal fact, and
Christian ministry is not exempt from such changes.
Doors of ministry both open and close.
One thing is certain. Ministry
becomes ineffective when we barricade ourselves behind a closed door.
An ever-present awareness of seasonal changes in our cultural
surroundings is vital to effective ministry.
As challenging as change is, seeking Jesus in the midst of change
is necessary. He may redirect
our path into a new door of ministry.
He may have us sit and wait on Him for further instruction, or, He
may actually say, "Go, follow the long-standing desire of your heart.