Life Change Begins Here and Continues Forever

     2 Corinthians 5:17 is the hope and the reality of every believer.  No one comes to Jesus Christ who is not changed from what he or she was, to begin living in a new reality.  This new reality is based upon what God intends for us in relationship to Himself, each other and the world that He created.  When God inspired John the gospel writer to include the story of Jesus' dealing with a man named Nicodemus (chapter 3), He intended for us to understand that no matter how good a person is, that person needs to be and could be changed.  When the Holy Spirit inspired Mark (chapter 5) to include in his gospel the story of a man filled with demons (the ultimate evil), God intended for us to know also that the worst of people need to be and could be changed.

     Change through the grace of God that comes to us through Jesus Christ is the hopeful message of the New Testament.  Because of this, the Church is a place of "life-change."  When a person comes to the Christ and to the Church, that person should expect to begin a different way of living, a different set of values, and different motivation.   For people who have been wounded emotionally, devastated in relationships, confused socially, and out-of-focus spiritually, Christ through His Church offers change.  

     How pitiful it is when a person has no hope of themselves or their circumstances being changed.  The world creates categories of prisons and in many cases unnecessarily uses behaviors to lock people into them.  But the Church with its Christ believes that we are not locked into anything that God through Christ cannot deliver us from.  To be "born again" is to be released from the chains and behaviors of our past.  To be "a new creature" is to be empowered each day to change our thoughts and activity to continue moving intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and behaviorally toward different and more positive outcomes that serve as a witness that ones ultimate destination has changed from what it used to be.

     Every person who is in Christ today is an X-something.  But in Christ (being born again) dismisses the X and gives to us new activity and new identity.  Thank God that He never leaves the sinner in the place where He found him.  Life change begins here.  Whoever you are, wherever you are or have been, "life change can begin" for you today, if you will surrender your life and your will to Christ.  This is your "new day."  This is the day you can be free.  2 Corinthians 5:17 " Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold! all things are become new." 

     

Christmas: A Story of Traded Glory

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.  Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death: even the death of the cross (Phil 2:5-8).

 Christmas is the "most wonderful time of the year."  For Christians it is, and always should be more than just another holiday.  The celebration is not merely about gift-giving and receiving, nor about bright lights and gayly played music just to lighten the mood for shopping.  This day is about the blessed moment when God--in his own mysterious and unique way--entered time and space as we know them on earth, in order to provide for us a way to be born anew into relationship with Himself, and changing the way we continue relationships in earthly society forever!

God the Son at that moment gave up the glory of Heaven and traded it for a body that would suffer the indignity of death.  There are simply two thoughts that I would like to share with you in hopes to encourage your life in Christ.

1. Christmas is about redeeming humanity and serving humanity.  In our world where people are naturally separated from God and the God goodness that would accompany our fellowship with Him, we are infected with such a self will that leads us both to evil and even to do good for selfish gain or acclaim.  The story of God the Son coming into the world however, is about bringing those people who are so loved by God back into fellowship with God on God's terms.  This itself is salvation.  Jesus, the Son of God came to save his people from their sins.

The second point is that

2. Christmas is about Surrendering to the will of God.  The Philippian Church was a loving and faithful Church; but it was not perfect.  Paul's letter to them compliments them but also encourages them to continue to give themselves to the service of God no matter what their human or community situation might be.  He says, "Let this mind be in you..."  The encouragement is this "Despite your knowing well your situation, and knowing what you are capable of "Let this mind be in you..."  The idea here is that each of us would allow the "mind of Christ" to replace or displace our desire to control life events.

But what does this mean?  What is the mind of Christ?  The mind of Christ is a mind that causes change for the good of all human-kind.  It is a mind that sacrifices to make those changes.  Jesus--God the Son--traded the glory of Godness for a body to be offered as a substitute and sacrifice for all who would believe (John 3:16).  The mind of Christ is a mind of service.  The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us in chapter 1 and verse 3 that God's Son (Jesus) is the express image of God himself.  In a true sense, to have the mind of Christ is to have the mind of our Creator (to share his compassion, intentions).  The mind of Christ is a mind of love and forgiveness.  It is also a mind that confronts evil and its damaging impact on the lives of other men and women. 

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..."

The God-man (Jesus), while in the flesh did not think it robbery to associate Divinity with humanity; and despite his heightened consiousness while in the flesh, he humbled himself to the will of the Triune God, and was obedient even to the point of his own physical death on the cross.  If Jesus--God the Son--would do this to secure our ETERNAL LIFE, we should also surrender ourselves to work for Lifestyle change and for Eternal Change (i.e. growth in grace) in the lives of others.

The story of Christmas is a story of traded glory.  But it is also the story of ended tragedy.  The content of the story is God's work to remove the effects of sin upon the minds, hearts, and bodies of His people.  Imagine the affect upon our own world when we begin to mimmick the life of our Savior.