My kids were at the optometrist for an eye exam, and the movie, Happy Feet, was playing in the waiting room. I was intrigued by the main character, Mumble — a name that represents his weakness (he can’t sing). He was born different. No matter what he did, he could not fit in. The other penguins couldn’t understand him, so they rejected him.
He left and wandered the wilderness; finally free from the expectations of tradition, he cultivated his gifting. When he returned to his home, he no longer feared the opinions of others. He was determined to express his gift; and as the penguins embraced this change, he was given a new name, Mambo (he can dance).
Little did Mambo know that his uniqueness was given to him for a reason. The life of penguins was transitioning, and Mambo was able to prepare them for the change. The older penguins fought the change, but the process of life can’t be stopped. Life will never be stagnant or frozen in time. The established customs of the past are not always applicable in the future.
As a teacher, I’ve felt the movement of life first hand. Though my rules, justice and love never changed, my system of doing things had to keep up with the growth of my students. I cared about my students’ education more than my comfortable way of teaching. When I saw my students becoming disinterested or lost, I knew it was time for something new. I changed my style, my systems and my presentations to better serve them. This made teaching a constant source of struggle and movement, but it was worth it because I grew along with them.
What does it mean to be a Christian? Many people check off all the traditions involved with being a Christian, but the core of Christianity is to love God (Mark 12.30 NIV). We are supernaturally able to love God through the righteousness we gain from Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, through the received gift of the Holy Spirit and through the amazing force of God’s Word, the Bible.
Systems are formed by the direction of God’s Spirit throughout history, so that each generation can better know how to love Him; and these systems change through the years. You can study God’s waves of movement in the Old and New Testaments and in church history. God loves His people so much that He presents Himself in revolutionary ways. His rules, justice and love never change; but God is so full and so mysterious that there are infinite attributes to His divine nature, and each generation is able to taste something new!
Many times God plants a seed of change — a vision — in His people, which will help facilitate His movement. He placed a seed in Abraham, Moses, King David, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Paul, Constantine, Martin Luther, and so on. And God placed Jesus at the center of this movement with his left arm embracing the past and his right arm embracing the future, holding the balance of existence in His pierced hands. These people were different, and they were all shunned by their peers because they didn’t fit in. But, they found their calling in the wilderness and returned to share God’s grace to the desert places of the human heart.
God loves us more than traditions or customs (though there is nothing inherently wrong with them), and He wants to reach His children by the movement of His Spirit. So my question to Christians is what about you is different? What vision has God planted in your life that will reap a harvest of grace in the next generation? Allow God to take you into the wilderness, so you can find your “Happy Feet” beyond the opinions of our current culture. Then, share your vision with those around you, so that the next generation will know how to love their God.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43.18-19 NIV).