I have a GPS for the car and it’s helped me find my way more times than I can count. But it’s also led me astray a time or two.
I’ve had it long enough now that every time I turn it on it electronically “shouts” that I really should update the maps. After all, it seems to say to me, things do change–even streets or highways. For whatever reason, I have refused to update so far. I keep thinking that what I now have is working just fine, so why change? I admit to a certain fear that I will regret this failure to update some day, but it’s not so large that it’s prompted me to do so yet.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve noticed a lot of articles lately about how these devices–which are supposed to get us safely from one place to another–can end up getting us in trouble. It seems that more drivers than not will go with what the GPS tells them rather than trust their own eyes.
I’ve read (or heard) numerous reports about following what the GPS directs no matter what common sense or your senses are telling you. Even when the road turns from pavement to gravel to dirt to a sudden end, drivers keep plodding along, trusting that what’s been programmed is surely right, though things are changing all around them.
It strikes me that too many Christians are driving around with an outdated GPS, which could stand for Growth Prematurely Stopped.
Most of us carry around a certain programming that we believe sets the course for our lives of faith. It may have been formed in the home or in the community of faith; it may have been nurtured from birth or crafted after adulthood. However or whenever, we were shaped in a certain way and we tend to move in that direction no matter what is going on around us.
That way of thinking might work except for 2 things. One, some of the things people have been programmed to believe are abominations in every sense of the word. And two, things change and our understanding deepens.
The life of discipleship, if it is to be faithful, requires continued growth through the disciplines of worship and study and service. It means staying connected to a community of believers who join with you to discern God’s claim on and direction for your life. It means refusing to insist that what you’ve always believed in the past is what you have to keep on believing until the day you die, trusting that God’s Spirit working in and through the community can lead you into new and deeper understandings of the truth.
If regular updating is required of our GPS’s, surely it should be required for any Christian or congregation or denomination seeking to discern who God is calling them to be or what God is asking them to do.
One important thing about the updating process. Even when you update, some things remain unchanged. And there is a certain confidence in knowing that what you believe now is based on what you hear God speaking in the context of the community today–and not just something that you parrot back because you heard it long ago and haven’t dared to question it since.