Change is hard. I was reminded of this by one of my colleagues today. But change is not only necessary, it is inevitable. The issue becomes…are we making the right change? How do we weigh in on our future and know which path to take? I always loved Robert’s Frost’ take, “I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference..” As people of faith, what does the other path look like? How do we discern “God’s will” for change in our lives and in the lives of those around us? And as a man of the cloth, how do I discern the ways in which I push and plead with the laity for change?
In the Wesleyan tradition we often measure our means for understanding God’s action in our lives through what we call the Wesleyan quadrilateral. We understand God and his encounters with our lives through Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. The Triune God is revealed to us in Scripture. His actions have been communicated through church tradition for 2,000 years. He created us in His own image with the ability to reason and understand his Divine action in the world. And we ultimately believe that He is relational God who encounters us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. By reconciling these four elements, we are able to discern God’s action in the life of the church and in the life of His people. Through weighing tradition and scripture together with our ability to reason and our experience with God, we are often able to discern the voice of God speaking change and transformation into our lives. And that is what it is ultimately all about. But it is not easy.
Fortunately the overarching guideline for Holiness doctrine is love. Without love change is not only difficult, it is fruitless. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” So we proceed with the spirit of love. Placing others needs above our own. So that change is not for self, but for others. And though it may be hard, in the end it will be worth it. Change is the road less traveled by, and it will make all the difference.