Nov 15, 2012

Who New

There is a simple question which clarifies the destiny of every soul.
And, beyond that, the answer to this question defines our theology, our spiritual investment level, and the quality of our relationship to God. The question is this:  "Do you want to be new?"

That’s a different question than, “Do you want to be forgiven?” It’s different from, “Do you need a new start in life?” And, it's different from, “Do you need a rescue from some dire circumstance of life?”

These can all be motives which drive us to Christ – and often do.
But, once we encounter Him, this larger and more encompassing question of personal renewal comes into play.  Always, in Christ, the overarching question becomes “Will you embrace a personal transformation?”

Obviously, this desire does not take root in the heart of all who come to Christ. Sometimes it is true, seekers wish only to make a minimal investment. Sometimes a little help, or a momentary rescue, or a simplistic religious experience is all they want. And, once those things are secured, they’re happy to leave it at that.

So, many simply have no appetite for allowing Christ to expose their personal brokenness, or for allowing Him to treat that condition. Their preference is more toward a kind of “Surgical Redemption.”

Surgical redemption can be described as minimally invasive to one’s priorities, schedule, and life plan.  This is a redemption which deals only with manageable specifics, and leaves the seeker totally in charge of his or her level of investment. 

But, the reality is this: “Surgical Redemption” is not the stuff of Heaven. Authentic redemption in Christ is always an “all in” proposition. 

And, as part of that devotion, genuine redemption always involves a renewal process which thoroughly rebuilds us from the ground up. It rewrites our value system from scratch. And it alters our own schemes and dreams in service to God's higher purposes for our life.

So, there is really no such thing as surgical redemption or a “measured response” to God’s redemptive offer. In Christ, redemption is always about going all in to become thoroughly new in character and influence.

Thus, our conversion experience may, indeed, involve a circumstantial rescue of some kind. It may involve the desperate need for a do-over in life. And God's forgiveness is certainly always a necessary part of the package. But, beyond all of this, the issue always ultimately becomes, “Will you embrace the pursuit of your own personal transformation?"

If your response goes something like this, “No, thanks; I really just need a little circumstantial help from time to time.  Or, "I'm really only interested in an easily managed religious involvement.” Then, that is what you'll get from God - and that's all.

If, however, your desperation runs along these lines: “Oh God, yes! I have seen my brokenness and I need your help! By all means, please fix me through Christ.” Then, a truly intimate relationship with Him and the resulting upward journey begins. And the rest is easily predictable.

The result of this buy-in to personal renewal is the divine initiation of a powerful process which flows, not from the Dying Christ of the Cross, but from the Living Christ of the Resurrection. The process begins with the literal integration of our human nature with the divine nature of the Living Christ.
(Ref. 2 Peter 1:4)

This experience is what the Church calls The Spiritual Baptism.  But, in common terms, this experience is merely a mystical merger with the Living Christ, by which the believer is literally empowered for newness.

Through this Spiritual connection to Christ, the believer receives what might accurately be described as a new "character DNA."  It is essentially a value system overwrite.  And this new, Christ-based character code then begins to change who we are – from the inside out. It begins to make us new at our core.

The Apostle, Paul said it best. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.”

There are many religious games out there. And many choose to play them. But true redemption is not a game. It involves a very stringent selection process, the outcome of which is ultimately determined by one simple question: “Do you want to be new?”

“Do you want to be new?” It is this question which accurately conveys the full scope of God’s redemptive intent. And our response to this question is ultimately the real decider of souls – all games aside.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” - Jesus