The Old Has Gone. The New Has Begun.
For centuries, mankind has tried to create an improved version of itself. There seems to be a universal assumption that in order to find ultimate fulfillment in life, we must find a way to become “better.” Self-help books are flying off the shelves like never before. Researchers have discovered that the younger generations are far more spiritually curious than their forefathers, although much less interested in organized religion. New churches are springing up every week, promising innovative methods to help their congregants find meaning and purpose in life. And for some, the expectation of a major and universal change is founded on the individual’s development of their human potential.
Why The Disconnect?
Despite all of this momentum toward self-improvement, the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness in American culture has reached an all-time high. In fact, a study conducted by US News and World Report found the United States to be “one of the most depressed countries in the world.” So, what’s the disconnect? Are all the churches and preachers and teachers and books and podcasts all getting it wrong? Or could there possibly be an underlying flaw in how we as civilized, intelligent human beings believe this “wholeness” is found?
The Bible teaches that, in the words of the apostle Paul, a new life is the result of “belonging” to Jesus Christ.
”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? All you have to do is say “yes” to Jesus and you’re made brand new! Many, many Christians, let alone numerous churches and theological perspectives, have fallen prey to the fallacy that when a person makes the decision to believe in Jesus, that God then does all the work from that point forward. Don’t you wish it was that easy?
Simple But Not Easy
Kevin, a good friend and mentor, told me many years ago when I was young in my Christian faith: “Being a follower of Christ is simple; it’s just not easy.” In other words, my wise friend was telling me that to follow Jesus wasn’t complicated. But it would be a challenging, lifelong journey. Why so difficult? Well, I’ve learned that in order to follow Jesus – to be His disciple and to truly experience life change – there is one huge obstacle I must get past. ME. Believe it or not, I had to accept that I’m not the solution to my problems. I am the problem! And since becoming aware of this painful yet freeing reality, my life has found authentic, life-changing faith and love and grace and hope and kindness and purpose that I never knew were possible.
Could God just deliver us from the pains of our past? Sure, He could. And He probably has in some cases. But I don’t believe that’s His typical MO. His greatest desire is to mold His children more and more into the character and nature of Jesus. This transformation requires a process. A journey. Turning from the brokenness of life. Turning toward wholeness in Christ.
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