By Sam Collins
I’m really bad at forecasting the future. If I’d been around when Moses and the Hebrew children were setting out for the Promised Land, I’d have predicted four hundred more years of Egyptian bondage and a lot of wasted change-of-address cards once Pharaoh’s chariots caught up with them.
As lousy as I am at predicting the future, I’m not alone. For every on-the-mark public projection, there are scores that are as accurate as a tax form completed by inebriated gerbils (interestingly, government records indicate that sober gerbils are rarely if ever audited by the IRS).
For that reason, I’m reluctant to automatically accept forecasts of the beginning of one paradigm-shifting, status-quo-shattering era or the end of another. And that’s also why I’m not quite ready to nod in agreement when I hear some people suggest that, in essence, the Church of God reformation movement may not survive till 2005.
Do we have problems? Indeed, we do. Are there trends and forces threatening to pull us apart? You bet your grandmother’s dog-eared hymnal there are. But what else is new? Shortly after any group of people gets together, forces conspire to rend it asunder. How else to explain the tensions and squabbles that arose in the New Testament church?
Given this tendency toward disagreement and drifting apart, I’ve often wondered why God felt it necessary to confuse the language of the people at the Tower of Babel in order to thwart their spirit of cooperation (Genesis 11:1–9). I would think that a few bickering exchanges in a common tongue would have fractured unity and splintered the group in half the time.
What makes the history of God’s people so interesting, however, is that something unexpected is always happening. The Israelites threw off their Egyptian shackles. Elijah bested the 850 pagan prophets on Mount Carmel. The church grew stronger while many of its members were serving as a first-century version of Tender Vittles for jumbo kitty cats. Even when all reasonable hope seems to be teetering on the precipice of disaster, God often finds enough open, obedient people to avoid catastrophe and embrace victory.
So I’ve decided to hold off on purchasing a memorial wreath for the Church of God. If we seriously grapple with the challenges that beset us and remain open to the God who can continue to unify and empower us, then who knows? We might even thrive in 2005—and for many years to come.
Sam Collins is the former writer-editor for Church of God Ministries. Article originally published in the 2003 prototype of ONEvoice! Republished by permission.
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