We begin the period of Lent this month, a time to reflect, to reconsider, to re-evaluate and to prepare to live a new life at Easter along with Jesus. As we move through Lent and towards that great Easter Day, perhaps some may think that if new life is ours in Christ, then why does it often feel so old and full of care? Why do we struggle with all of those things we can't stop ourselves from doing, even though we know we shouldn't do them? If we're united with Christ through our faith, why does it seem that we're still struggling alone? If the Bible says that we've died and been raised with Christ, why can't we truly believe that? Why do we allow our old nature to speak much louder than our new one?
For a realistic, authentic Christian life we mustn't think of ourselves as being in the process of a slow reforming by God, gently moulded by his hands, trying hard to make the bad habits good ones and the sinful tendencies weak. If we think along these lines, then we'll more than likely fail in our Christian walk. We need to see ourselves in much starker and realistic terms, of once dead and now raised to new life.
The prayer I say each night ends with these glorious words; "O Father, that we ask be done, through Jesus Christ your only Son, and Holy Spirit, by whose breath, our souls are raised to life from death..."
It's crucial that, as Christians, we understand that Jesus doesn't offer to ‘improve' us. He offers to let us die and then inhabit our personalities with his presence. That's why discipleship often hurts because there's a cross, there's grieving and there's re-birth.
Are you living a resurrected life? Many of us try really hard to do so in our own strength and we end up worn out, frustrated and tired. So, how do we get there?
Well, by not straining for it, reading about it or frantically immersing ourselves in ‘churchy' things, but by ‘asking', during our quite time and prayers - an ideal Lenten discipline - for death and resurrection to be real in our lives. Asking often of the Holy Spirit and trusting deeply that our request will be both heard and responded to that our lives should be renewed, dying to the old life and rising with the new. The power of Jesus' resurrection is available when the power of self is exhausted. Live in his power. Or better still, let his power live in you.
With every blessing. Paul
© Copyright Hatfield Church / Tim Sweed 2008