“Classical forms change due to virtuosos. Because they’re not wholly rejecting a certain style or form, they’re just pushing the boundaries.”
I read this quote in an article about artistic styles and norms, specifically in dance, and what creates them or changes them. The standards of technique in dance styles have changed pretty drastically over the years. If you looked at excerpts of ballets from every decade or two, it might even be hard to recognize how these appearances of dance could share the same style name. The progression these art forms have taken though didn’t happen overnight. Small changes towards new elements and expectations were taken over weeks, and months, and years.
These new ideas and progressions were sometimes criticized, but could often be praised as creative wonders, showing such innovation and special vision. Over time, as one step farther built upon the last step forward and made way for the next step forward in how far this new direction could be explored, some of these style changes went to surprising extremes. No one jumped to the extreme initially though, and likely not many people envisioned the end result when they started stretching beyond what had been normal. Likely, if they had, it would have never been accepted; it was too far to go, but if people could go just a little farther each time, you can get to the same destination without setting off too many alarms.
This phenomenon is not unique to dance or to the world of art. It is a pattern which can influence pretty much any area of life and the world we live in. Realizing this shows why we need to be very on guard about what we believe – and why we believe it. This is especially important in regards to what we believe about God and Scripture and how it is to impact our lives. Not all change is bad, but we need to be very aware of when things are starting to gradually shift and make a conscious, prayerful choice: is this true and right, or is this something to reject?
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
– 2 Corinthians 10:5
How careful we need to be in the slight variations of beliefs we are open to accepting in our faith! When you see a big change in the way our culture acts or believes, it isn’t a sudden thing. It was built up to gradually by people who just “pushed the boundaries” slightly. And then slightly more. If you want to guard yourself against straying from the absolute, eternal truth in Scripture, you don’t need to be primarily watchful against blatant beliefs that “reject the whole system” or principle you hold to. That’s usually too obvious to have an influential power over you.
No, it’s the subtle, gradual adjusting that creates big changes. It’s ideas that might even sound good, and only go a little farther than normal, which are not carefully checked and brought into submission under Christ, that put you at risk for ending up somewhere way different than you started or planned. They carry the most power when they present themselves as serving a good purpose or as fulfilling a need or desire that you have been carrying in your heart.
Just look back to the very beginning with the serpent’s first conversation and lie presentation to Eve: “‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:5-6)
So be careful what voices you expose yourself to! Watch out who you let tell you what God says! Something may sound harmless or beneficial at first, but it might end up being the source of great harm in your life or the life of those around you. And if you find yourself in a place far away from the truth you once held tight to, it may do some good to begin asking what beliefs are the support system for that way of thinking or living.
Seek God’s Word personally, with your own eyes, on your knees in prayer before Him. He knows your heart and can reveal it to you, (Psalm 139:23-24) and He can give you the wisdom you need to properly understand and apply His Truth to your life when you ask. (James 1:5) As you realign the foundation that paved the way for the big changes in your life, you can begin to see the way to return to where you know you belong, and eventually, to be able to share that way home with others around you.