“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NLT
Who I was isn’t alive anymore. The old “me” died because it was crucified with Christ. And now I am a new “me”, a new creation, home to Christ. But why do I keep trying to resuscitate the old “me”. A difficult situation crops up and instead of trusting in Jesus, so often my first thought is to open up the grave, take the lid off the coffin, and pull out this corpse in the mistaken expectation that it can solve my problems. And when I find that it can’t I become depressed, worried and anxious. Only then, when the damage is done and when suitably chastened, do I reach out to God. How daft is that? Yet, I’m sure we all do it. Or am I the only one? We have this wonderful Saviour, unlimited in grace, love and wisdom; He loved us so much that He died for us yet too often we choose to live our lives without Him, the old way. Hmmm….
“So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:12-14 NLT
When we identify with Jesus and His death, joining Him in His Kingdom outside the world’s “city gates”, our residential status changes. Our spiritual passports record that we are now “Citizens of the Kingdom of God”. This world has become our temporary lodgings. A place where we are just passing through. And in the world’s eyes it may involve “disgrace” as we suffer the same rejection that Jesus did.
You see, through Jesus’ blood we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9. Folks, there’s no going back to a monochrome dark existence when we have a technicolour world waiting for us in the age to come. But why would we want to?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them.”
Hebrews 13:8-9 NLT
In a world, a society, a culture, that is constantly changing, the reality that we worship an unchanging God is a welcome, counter-cultural place to be. We have a solid rock on which God has put us (Psalm 40:3), where we can be unshaken and unmoved by the vagaries of life. We need to beware of allowing new ideas that have been birthed in our secular society, even if promoted by our political leaders, to gain an insidious foothold in the Christian church. But we have grace, freely given by God, to give us strength in our Christian lives, and a confidence that will withstand any attempts by the enemy to infiltrate the church with “strange new ideas”. All glory and praise to Jesus, who “is the same yesterday, today and forever”. Amen!
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”” Hebrews 13:5-6 NLT
With a God who never lets us down we can approach any situation in life with boldness. With confidence. Fear of man in this context is irrational and debilitating. So the question I ask of each one of us, including myself, is, “Who or what am I afraid of”? Forty years or so ago, as a young Christian, I kept very quiet in the house groups I attended. My favourite strap line was, “It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than open my mouth and remove all doubts.” Today, I want to proclaim Jesus and His saving grace. I want to speak out and pray. I want to declare what the Bible says about this awesome God we worship. At times it has not gained me popularity, particularly in the workplace. But as the Scripture says, “What can mere people do to me?” And what can they do to you?
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT
Sometimes we try and over complicate things. We build complex structures, thought patterns. We look for ways to try and please God by what we do. And yet it is so simple. Belief and declaration. One from the heart. One from the mouth. One in our thoughts. One in our speech. A combination guaranteed to succeed, assuring our righteousness in God’s eyes and salvation bringing us one day into His presence. The Gospel really is Good News. Who are you going to share the message of hope with today?