I read a great illustration recently that got me thinking. Take 5 apes, put them in a cage with stairs and a banana hanging above the stairs. One ape will try and get the banana, but gets sprayed with cold water. Soon another ape will try the same thing, and the process is repeated. Pretty soon, whenever an ape tries to climb the stairs the others will stop it. Remove one ape and replace it with another. The new ape will try and climb the stairs and will be prevented. Slowly replace all the original apes with new ones, and the new ones will prevent each other from climbing the stairs even though they have no idea why!
How many times has someone said to you, “We always do it this way.” It could be a process done at work, it could be a tradition your family has or any million things. Traditions in and of themselves are not bad, but when we repeat things they can become lifeless and hold no meaning.
This happens in the Church too, even the most contemporary ones. The worship may sound different from the more traditional, liturgical churches, but if we do not seek the Lord for new things, the tempo of the music may be different, but the hearts of the people will remain unchanged.
God Himself never changes (Hebrews 6:17), but He wants to do a new thing in our midst. When He talks of something new, it doesn’t necessarily mean something that He has never done before, it means new in quality and form.
This means that we have a responsibility to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His prompting during the times of personal and corporate worship. The songs may be the same, but the spirit with which you sing them can be new.
We can praise God for each blessing, but we cannot rest our hope in any of them. Biblical faith does not relegate God to yesterday. If we expect God to act today only in the ways He has acted in the past, we could miss what He is doing now to bring us into a new place in our relationship with Him.
How do we go about making sure we don’t become stagnant in our ways with the Lord? Listen for His Voice, spend time seeking Him in the Word and in prayer, and expect the unexpected!