the adaptability anachronism

I have had computer problems this week. My computer crashed.

This has had a number of knock-on effects…

I had been given a new laptop (the ‘old’ one was less than 3 weeks old).

I have had to reinstall all my software again.

I have had to reload all my files (thankfully I had done a back up to an external drive the previous day).

I have had to spend a lot of un-planned-for time doing all of this.

But the most frustrating thing of all was that it crashed while I was working on Sunday morning’s sermon. My notes and two-thirds-written sermon have vanished. So today, instead of spending some time with people and sailing my boat with them, I will be back in the study praying that God hasn’t forgotten what he wants me to say and that I can hear him again.

I am not sure if I am more disappointed at the  loss of the sermon or the loss of the sailing with friends. My sailing boat is relaxing for me and a good opportunity to spend some time with friends and catch up with them. It is also really enjoyable. The sermon, on the other hand, may have needed another day spending on it.

We often have to adapt to our circumstances as they change. Evolutionary Biologists will tell you that this ability to adapt is one of the reasons that humans are at the top of the food chain.

I think that Christians ought to be very adaptable people too. The book of Acts in the Bible could be renamed the book of Adapts: Jesus’ followers had to rethink so many different things as they learnt and discovered what it meant to follow him in what could be hostile and antagonistic environments. And while there are many ways in which we should not conform to the way the ‘world’ is, and we believe in a God who is unchanging in his love, justice, mercy and grace, there is every reason why we should adapt to our circumstances just as the Adapts of The Apostles records in the early church…

So why is it that Christians seem so reluctant to adapt, to embrace change, to be flexible? We can come across as Luddites: people who resist change at all costs. I dare to say that if our first century ancestors had been as inflexible as we can be, the church may not have made it into the second century!

We need to discern what is immutable in our faith and what is changeable in our traditions. I suspect if we asked Jesus that question his response would be far more generous and far wider than we might be!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

An Amishman lived on a quiet, rural highway. But, as time went by, the traffic slowly built up at an alarming rate. It became so heavy and so fast that his chickens were being run over at a rate of three to six a day. So he called the sheriff’s office and said, “You’ve got to do something about all of these tourists driving so fast and killing all of my chickens.”

“What do you want me to do?” asked the sheriff.

“I don’t care, just do something about these drivers.”

So the next day the sheriff had the county go out and put up a sign that said: SLOW: SCHOOL CROSSING. Three days later, the Amishman again called the sheriff and said, “That sign didn’t help a bit. They are still hitting my chickens.”

So the next day, the county put up a sign that said: SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY.

Again, no change. So the Amishman called and called, every day for three weeks. Finally, he told the sheriff, “Look, your signs are just not working. Mind if I put up one of my own?”

The sheriff told him, “Sure thing, let’s see if yours works better.”

He was willing to agree to anything to get him to stop those daily calls. Well, the sheriff got no more calls from the Amishman. After three weeks, he decided to call the Amishman and see how things were going.

“Did you put up your sign?”

“Oh, I sure did. And not one chicken has been killed since. I’ve got to go. I’m very busy.” And he hung up the phone.

The sheriff thought to himself, “I’d better go have a look at that sign. There might be something there that WE could use to slow down drivers…”

So the sheriff drove out to the Amishman’s house, and he saw the sign. It was on a whole sheet of plywood. Written in large, yellow letters were the words: NUDIST COLONY.

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