Shake It Up

This week we are discussing the Gospel being spread to the Gentiles.

Recently I listened to a podcast in which the host interviewed various experts about human behavior. They were discussing how to successfully change behaviors, using examples like New Year’s resolutions. One of them gave an example that I found fascinating.

In 2014 there was a transit strike that shut down some, but not all, stations in the London subway system. It was a significant disruption, but only lasted for two days. During those two days, some commuters were forced to find alternate routes that used the stations that remained open, or drive themselves, ride buses, bicycles, walk, or any number of other solutions.

The fascinating part is that researchers studied a specific route and discovered that after the strike, it permanently lost 5% of its ridership. This meant a small, but significant, number of people who weren’t initially seeking any kind of change discovered there was another solution they preferred. And they figured it out in just two commutes.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every unplanned change forced on us will be good. After all, ninety-five percent of the commuters returned. But this real-world example demonstrates that sometimes good things come from changes we weren’t even looking to make. Peter saw and accepted such a change:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Acts 10:44-46 (HCSB)

Did some unexpected change recently occur to you? Maybe it’s bad and you will need to lean on your faith to cope. We know bad things happen. But just maybe, just maybe, this change is an opportunity to learn something new, meet somebody new, or grow in a new direction.

Maybe the next time we visit a restaurant is the time to order that one dish we’ve always wanted to try but haven’t been bold enough. That’s an easy one. Or maybe the next time the Holy Spirit leads us in a direction that has always felt uncomfortable, now is the time to say yes.

By Mark Stuart

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