For over a week now, I have had these three terms running through my mind. The first concept is foundational to the Christian faith; confession of our short comings seems the first step toward receiving the grace of God. However, my life experience has been that confession or the sense of need for “outside help” is always a gift of grace. In other words God is always at work bringing us to repentance, the acceptance of his love. Repentance is then more his proposal than our humility. Just as an adoring lover comes to the point that living without her groom is not living at all, so God proposes to us in a way that we cannot refuse! Our acceptance of that proposal often sounds like repentance when we come to realize how far we are from what we were created to be!
Of course, the Resurrection makes all that possible: God becoming flesh, living a blameless life before us, and receiving the penalty of our sins (whether God imposed or the fruit of man’s shortcomings, I still am not sure)! Jesus then rose from the dead to assure us that death no longer has a hold on us! Not just in the after life but in the now.
Perhaps the thing we have failed to communicate as Christ Followers is that this transformation from fallen creature to our original Godlike image is not as radical as the language of “born again” implies. For me the change was radical on January 3, 1973, relatively speaking. My life was such a mess that by comparison, the person that I was the morning after I came to Christ was amazing, both to me and to others. My language changed, my habits changed, not in the 21-90 days as science would have it, but almost instantly, or so it seemed.
Yet as the years have gone by, what I have come to realize is that I might have been relatively righteous in some of my ways, if I compare my new man with those most wicked, but that is not Christ-like-ness. Discipleship, spiritual transformation, restoration, reclaiming of the nature of Christ, the character of Christ and the fruit of Christ is much slower. At 67 years of age, it appears to be a life journey of three steps forward and two steps back. In fact, it is the two steps back that holds the prize! As we compare and contrast our failures and life learnings, the feedback of others, both saint and sinner, with the life of Christ, we slowly begin to grasp the “aHa’s” of the New Creation.
Perhaps the necessity of this blog entry is to communicate the need to “lighten up” on yourself, if you are a new or aspiring believer; “where sin abounds, grace does much more abound!” For those like myself, long into the Red Zone of Life, having dropped the ball way too often, and even at times failing to pick up my own fumbles, (I love Cam Newton and my Panthers), let this be an affirmation! Another year is in front of us, and we are better prepared for it!