Jump ahead 37 years, and I was hearing much the same thing from a group of high school and college students.
We were debriefing in the closing days of a mission trip to Nicaragua, and these young people were sharing about the impact of the trip on them. They talked about how the experience had changed them, about how they would see the world in different way when they returned home.
I cautioned them about the conforming power of the inertia of our lives. We may return from an experience feeling changed, but the rhythm and routine of our lives will do all it can to undo any transformation. The people to whom we return will expect us to be the same people we have always been; it will be difficult for them to adjust.
The longer we live, the more powerful this barrier to change grows. To say the young are impressionable is to say that the tyranny of the status quo is weaker in them.Part of growth as a believer is to feel increasingly ill at ease in once familiar places. Growing more into the image of Jesus can mean that others understand us less. Faith can have a distancing effect on us as we change and the world around us does not.
Flanner O’Conner once quipped: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.” Feeling odd and ill at ease in an untransformed world should be comforting to us; it means renewal is growing in us.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).
Jim Kelsey-Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of New York State~