Dear reader, welcome to the Sunday blog. So far we’ve looked at how we can best position ourselves to be found by God; how to get in the Word and learn about our loving Father; and how to find our identity in Christ and seeing ourselves as God sees us and not as the world might seek to define us. At this point, the expectation is that we have been inviting our loving Father into our lives daily, asking Him to draw us closer to Him. We’ve also been studying the Bible daily to get to know our Father and how He’d have us be. Through studying the verses about how our loving Father sees us, we are starting to have an idea of our identity in our Christ and a revelation of the person He created us to be.
By now, we’re also discovering an opposing force that seems determined to keep us from engaging in the activities listed above. Maybe we think it’s foolish. Maybe we feel we don’t have the time; we might be overwhelmed and feel it’s all too much and we’ll never get ‘there’, however we define ‘there’ to be. Maybe we’ve tried to do good deeds, to act well, to be kind, to overlook slights, turn the other cheek… My guess is that it’s not going as smoothly as we would like. Willpower seems to be failing us and despite our best efforts and intentions, we keep reacting just like we did before we made this resolution to be ‘good’ people.
Every person seeking to follow Christ has experienced this tension in their life. I often find myself in its grip. One minute I’m perfectly still at the altar, submitted to the will of my loving father, graciously following His lead. Then the next thing I know, as I was telling Martin in our comment section yesterday, I find myself crawling off of the altar to do things my way, as if I didn’t know the Christ -it’s the most mysterious occurrence every time it happens, I can’t quite explain it! It almost feels like an out-of-body experience. But Paul does a great job of making sense of the mess from this tension.
What is happening here is that the old you is warring with the new you. The Apostle Paul talks about it in Romans 7: 15, 18-19, 21-24 [TPT] when he says “I am a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn… The longings to do what is right are within me, but willpower is not enough to accomplish it. My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the very thing I want to avoid… I discover that even when I want to do good, evil is ready to sabotage me. Truly, deep within my true identity, I love to do what pleases God. But I discern another power operating in my humanity, waging a war against the moral principles of my conscience and bringing me into captivity as a prisoner of the law of sin -this unwelcome intruder in my humanity. What an agonizing situation I am in! Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me out of this body of death? Who has the power to rescue this miserable man from this unwelcome intruder of sin and death?”
Isn’t it a relief to see we’re not alone? To our relief, we learn that it’s not as hopeless as we were beginning to feel it is. Paul provides this hope in the very next verse 25 while speaking to the Romans when he says “I give thanks to God, for His mighty has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So if left to myself, the flesh is aligned with the law of sin, but now my renewed mind is fixed on and submitted to God’s righteous principles.”
Paul further expounds on this hope while speaking in Corinth when he says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 “When anyone is united with Christ, they become a new person. God makes them new. Old things have gone. See, they have become new! All this is the work of God, who, through Christ, has made peace between Himself and us. Through Christ, we have become God’s friends. And He wants us to bring other people to be His friends also. This is the job that He has given to us. God wants us to tell people that, through Christ, He is bringing the world to Himself. He is bringing all people in the world back to Himself to be his friends -reconciliation. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty of their sins. And it is this message of peace that He wants us to tell people” [ERV].
As easy a translation version as I’ve chosen to convey this tension between the old and the new, hope and hopelessness, it remains a bit of a scrambled subject to understand. Quite frankly it might even sound gibberish; only it’s not gibberish. When we take away all the verbiage and just focus on our attempt at a practical walk based on Godly principles, we can clearly feel the tension in our daily lives as we try to live according to the new principles we are learning, which seem to be in conflict with our old nature.
We are taught here that the person who can resolve that tension and bring harmony in our lives is the person of Christ Jesus. It takes some doing to grasp it. It takes some doing to believe it. It takes the renewing of the spirit of the mind to make sense of it all. It takes the transforming of the mind -a topic we will explore further next week. Thank you for reading the Sunday Blog. Helena xoxo