The Times They Are A’Changing

I wasn’t yet born when Bob Dylan released one of his most memorable songs, The Times They Are A-changin’. It is a song about the rapid transformations people were experiencing post-World War 2. It resonated with a younger generation who were impatient with progress, but the lyrics of the song seem to apply to just about any moment in time. While Dylan’s song might have had a particular context in mind, his poetry does have echoes of the Book of Ecclesiastes. This morning I am thinking about the verse that says, “a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:8) The times are indeed changing and yet there have been times like this before.     The West has lived through an incredible period of stability, economic and political. Perhaps we have forgotten that this has not always been the case. In fact, the kind of peace we have experienced in the last 80 years is rare in human history. It really shouldn’t surprise us that we see conflict today. The question is, how do we as Christians respond? The divisions in our world seem so deep. If you mention support for one cause, you are accused of being against the other. We grow fearful of expressing general concerns or even stating clear biblical truths. What do we do? First off, in our daily lives, we need to ensure that we treat everyone we meet with respect and courtesy. “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17) Frontline workers from the medical field to restaurants are quitting jobs because people are rude and difficult. Christians ought to present a different aroma, offering words of encouragement and support in an age where difficulties abound. Second, we don’t need to have an opinion on every international issue. It’s complicated and complex. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) This posture doesn’t mean that we stay silent but rather we take time to measure our words. James encourages us to pray for wisdom when we need it. Finally, we should not fail to continue our spiritual disciplines – gathering in worship, bible reading, times of prayer and fasting, and service of others. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13) In the midst of a changing world we must be steadfast in our commitments, even while others around us waver. The times are changing. The world our children are inheriting is very different and there is little we can do about it. But we are not helpless. When we prepare our hearts before the Lord, we can offer the world a very different picture of peace in a time of war.