"Times they are a chang'in" goes the quote, but is it true? We can point to all sorts of things that are different than when we were growing up, or even when our parents or grandparents were being raised. Who would have ever thought that at our very fingertips we could access a world of music, videos, and information beyond our wildest imagination. Yet these are not the only changes that we have seen in our world. We have witnessed a tectonic shift in morals, work habits, and how we live from day to day. It is a rare occurrence that a family will sit down together for a meal and discuss all that is happening in their lives and touch base with the common values that they hold. The times they are a changing.
We see this happening in the world of the church as well. We feel the pull of culture to adapt to the changing world, to soften our teachings, to change our traditions, to be more "relevant". The times have changed in that many do not see church as a significant event in their lives, as something that is actually making a difference. Worship and church is more of a cultural thing, something we do a few times a year. The idea of being a "regular" church goer is defined by attending once a month or once every six Sundays. The idea and concept of every Sunday attendance is viewed as restrictive. The churches teaches are considered outdated, outmoded, or from another time and place. So the church itself is pushed to the corners of society. The times they are changing.
Yet simply sit and read through scripture from Numbers 11, Romans 1, and the Gospels and you will see that the words of the writer of Ecclesiastes is true "there is nothing new under the sun." The natural situation in the world is that we don't want to hear God's word, be called to repentance, or be directed toward a new path. It was the same in the Old and New Testaments. Yet we are called to be "in the world and yet not part of the world." God is calling us to be the church. In fact the very word for church is "Eklessia" those who are called out.
What does it mean to be "called out"? It means we are called out from the world to live in peace, in hope, and in righteousness. Yet we are called to go back into the world to carry the light, to rescue those trapped in darkness, and to give hope to those who are enslaved and trapped in sin. Yes, the times they are a changing. The church and its mission does not change, we are still called out of the world and sent back to it. We are called out to live by grace and sent back with that very same grace, to be the salt of the earth and the light to the world. We go with the unchanging gospel of hope to a world lost in hopelessness.