Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day Twenty-Nine: Renewable

The WORD of the Day:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."  
--II Corinthians 5:17

Let Me Give You a Lift:

On Day Nineteen we talked about today's Word in terms of moving Forward and leaving the past behind. Today, I want to discuss what that looks like in practice. What does it mean to be a new creation? How do we do it? C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about these questions in his book Mere Christianity.

I think the first thing to remember is that we don't become a completely different person overnight. Becoming a Christian is not like flipping a light switch, where one day you have flaws and the next day you don't. Our slate is wiped clean, yes, and repeatedly.  But fixing the things about ourselves that need fixing requires intentional (and regular) effort. Whether it's adjusting my temper, being less prideful, ceasing to gossip, addressing an addiction, or [insert your flaw here], change can only happen if we try to change.  The good thing is, now we don't have to go about change on our own; we have God. Of our effort to change, C.S. Lewis writes:
[W]e cannot...discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't.” 
And that's the second thing we need to recognize--to be a new creation, we need God's help.  Actually, we need to let God do the work. How? By listening to Him. The Bible tells us that God has given us all we need so we are "thoroughly equipped for every good work." But we can't know God's will blindly. Ours must be a knowing faith, based on prayer and study. On this point, C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making... Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.” 
The third thing we need to remember is that change is necessary; we must always keep moving forward, even when it is hard.  Lewis writes:
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” 
Change does not happen overnight, we need God's help to be a new creation, and we have to keep trying even when it is hard. Lewis writes:
God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.
God does not expect perfection. Just that we have the faith in Him to get back up again when we fall.  And every time we do, he renews us once again.

Give it a Listen:

Today's song is "Take You Back" by Jeremy Camp. This is a song about redemption, and renewal, and the encouragement that comes from knowing that God's response is always "I'll take you back."

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