A pane of glass is a brittle thing. Drop it, or throw a ball through it, and it will shatter. Yet for all it’s fragility it is a bit flexible. Lift a large enough sheet of glass by one corner and it will bend a bit before breaking. You can even see windows bow slightly as the pressure changes within a house. Seen from the right angle, it’s a pane of glass can be flat one moment, then, when a door is opened, it takes on a wee bit of a curve, just like a soap bubble.
It’s important for things be able to bend or give under pressure. Otherwise windows would break every time a door was opened or the wind blew; trees would snap in strong winds; even bridges bend and sway a bit in order to compensate for wind and traffic. No matter how strong and firm a thing might be, it is even more secure if it has a certain degree of flexibility.
Faith should be flexible as well. When our beliefs are rigid and inflexible we are weak and prone to shatter. Some things are absolute, of course; Jesus died and rose from the dead. God is sovereign and supreme and loves us for who and what we are. Those things are fixed, firm and unchangeable. But many things we believe are not quite as set in stone. As we grow and mature, or as our lives are impacted in different way, how we understand our faith is tested and tried, and sometimes needs to be changed or adjusted to compensate for God’s reality, as opposed to what we think is right or wrong.
The ordination of women considered a non-starter for many denominations for centuries. With more careful study of Scripture and a growing understanding of God’s true will, however, most denominations realized the error of their ways and changed their rules to allow the ordination of women. Now the debate is about the full acceptance and affirmation of LGBTQ people. Many enlightened souls have realized that a faulty reading of Scripture and our own human prejudices and ignorance was what prevented their full inclusion in the church, rather than God’s own will.
Without being flexible and open to the Holy Spirit’s moving through us and revealing God’s truth, women would still be excluded from Ordination and LGBTQ people would not be affirmed and accepted within many churches. These and other issues continue to be discussed and debated. For those whose faith is open to God’s shaping and formation, change is possible. For others, change is more difficult. And for some being inflexible means that when change happens, their faith shatters like a pane of glass pushed too far.
One thing is certain: God loves us, no matter who we are. That fact is firm and inflexible. It is we humans who are variable and at times unpredictable. As a result our faith can be tested and challenged; long held beliefs sometimes need to be rethought; ignorance needs to be replace with wisdom; our understanding needs to be God’s understanding. Through all this, d as strong as we might be,we are even stronger when we’re a little bit flexible.