Background: I first assembled most of these thoughts in 1995 and recalled them earlier today as I was thinking about the brand new year, 2011, that lies ahead. This blog is primarily intended for those who are already professing Christians but will also be of interest to those who are still seekers.
So many of us are making resolutions for changes at this time of the year that we need to make in our Christian lives … deeper commitment, bolder witnessing, imbedding ourselves daily in His word, demonstrating our love for Christ to others, etc. Too often we let our daily routine interfere with our best intentions and the resolutions fall by the wayside.
God expects our relationship with Him to continuously grow. As a Christian, Christ has made a significant difference in my life. What difference has Christ made in your life? Since you accepted Christ as your Savior, has your lifestyle changed? Would a complete stranger get the impression that you are a Christian from your actions and attitudes? What about when you shop at the grocery store, the drugstore or your favorite restaurant? Is it easy for you to blend in with any crowd, adopting the ways of those whom you are with?
The Bible teaches that Christians are to stand out, to be different from the world, and to adopt the behavior of Christ. Jesus spoke of our Christian experience in terms of a birth and a marriage. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are born into His Spirit and His way of life … a definite new beginning which is followed by a continuing process of spiritual growth. As part of the church, Christians are part of the bride of Christ. Our love for Jesus should grow deeper as we mutually strive to lead souls to believe in Him and His promises.
Paul wrote about the Christian being committed to a different lifestyle in Colossians chapter three. For the most part, the church in Colossae was composed of former pagans, not Jews. Paul encouraged these “new” believers to live consistently with their new self. Old patterns can be overcome and new patterns developed as Christ takes control of our lives.
Colossians 3:5-16 (NIV)
Rejecting My Old Self
“5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
Accepting My New Self
10 And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Loving God’s People
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Receiving Christ’s Word
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
Reflection: The new life we receive at salvation compels us to act like the new person we are in Jesus Christ. We are to leave our old ways and take on the ways of Christ. Our actions and behavior as Christians should grow out of our admiration and love for Jesus.
As you evaluate the extent to which your life shows that you belong to God, perhaps you will be led to share your experience with a friend or relative. God wants us to grow in our evangelism skills. God chose the church to be His instrument in spreading His Good News of salvation. As you make a renewed commitment to your faith at the beginning of this new year, why not decide to join me and be more open in sharing your faith and beliefs with others? It could make a significant difference in someone’s life and where they choose to spend their eternity.