Whether by day or night, whenever the cloud lifted they set out. Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in the camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out" Numbers 9:21-22 (NIV).
The Southern Baptist Convention International Missions Board's decision earlier this year raised a few eyebrows. Missionary candidates will no longer be rejected if they speak in tongues. Pentecostals, like myself, applauded the ruling. When any walls of separation within the Body of Christ come down, it is reason to rejoice.
In my opinion, the Church as a whole, finds change problematic. Adopting postures that resist new ideas and breakthroughs in science, technology and so forth has left the Church in the embarrassing position of being flat out wrong. The earth does really revolve around the sun.
The Church is also quick to dig in its heels concerning theological issues. To be very clear, it is important to know and adhere to the truth. It is just as important to be willing to consider the possibility that our present understanding of what is the truth may not be God's final say in the matter.
Not long ago Pentecostals were ostracized and even persecuted; their beliefs and practices were considered demonic. Once relegated to the other side of the tracks, Pentecostals are now front and center. What was considered heresy is now becoming mainstream and growing more and more in acceptance. What changed?
Perhaps the Church should take some clues from its Israelite forefathers; learn a lesson or two from its own book, the Bible - Cloud Following 101. In order to stay in sync with God, the Israelites could be certain of a few things:
1. They had to follow the cloud.
2. At any time, even for no apparent reason, the cloud would move.
3. When breaking camp, the Israelites never knew their new destination. They constantly adapted to different circumstances, terrain, situations and so forth.
4. The cloud never checked with them to learn their preferences nor to listen to their opinions.
5. The cloud didn't wait for stragglers or foot-draggers.
Just like the Israelites, believers individually and corporately need to maintain vigilance for God's movements. His agenda and timetable aren't open for discussion. He moves at will whether we like/understand/agree or not. We can be certain He'll lead us into virgin, unknown territory which we have no grid for. We must stay flexible and open-minded, willing to camp and not put down roots.
How about you? How have your beliefs changed overtime? How do you respond to issues deemed controversial? How much study/investigation do you give to matters outside of your comfort zone? Are you willing to move with God into the unknown?