This week's memory verse:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17
I used to really struggle with the verse above...it sounded good...I WANTED to be a new creation! I did all the things I was supposed to do: I went to church, I prayed, I was kind to people, I gave some money to the church and other charities...how come I still felt like the old me and how come I still kept right on doing things I didn't want to do? I must not be "good enough" for God to "work his instant magic" on me and send the old me away and make me new. The Bible says that is what is supposed to happen right?
Then, over a period of time, after much prayer, study, discussion with trusted friends, and more prayer, I finally realized God doesn't work that way. His way is not instant gratification for us...we have responsibilities.
Ephesians 5:1-4 says we are to follow Jesus' example and walk in the way of love with no sexual immorality, impurity or greed, with no obscenities or course talk, but act with thanksgiving in all things. Wow! Those are pretty high standards to live up to.
Ephesians 5:8-10 states that as "children of light" we have the responsibility to act with goodness, righteousness and truth and to find out what pleases God.
So, to get this straight, in order to become "new creations" in Christ, we have to do ALL those good things ALL THE TIME, right? Well, yes, but God knows how hard it is to do this, so he gave us the church to support us.
Colossians 2:6-7 says we are to continue to live our lives in Christ; rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.
How do we do all that?
Colossians 3:16 goes on to say that we are to teach and admonish each other with wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs, singing to God with gratitude.
Where do we do all that? At church.
I was raised in church as a child with both parents very active in the church. Something happened that hurt my dad very deeply and he lost faith in churches...not in God, but in church. After that, we continued going (to a different church) but dad did not. I remember him saying that he didn't need church to worship God...he could sit in the beauty of his farm on the hill and praise God and his creation. While I agree that my dad could worship God fine without a church, I think he was missing one of God's reasons for creating the church all those many years ago, starting with Peter and Paul and revolving around Christ. We NEED each other! God made us to live in community...we need the support, advice, teaching, accountability, and most importantly the love of others who believe and have Christ in their hearts in order to live up to those responsibilities listed in Ephesians. It is just too hard to keep doing all that alone!
Our First Place 4 Health group has been learning what it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: we are to honor God with our bodies. That is another hard responsibility to keep alone...yes it is very personal, it is MY body! But, we get very selfish about our bodies and we NEED the support...daily support from others going through the same struggle to live up to that responsibility. We have proven that over and over. When our group has been going strong, coming to group, sending supportive emails to each other, finding time to walk together...we have had great success. But lately, we have all gotten too busy and let each other down by not keeping that strong support going.
You don't have to be in FP4H to support others...find someone in your church who you have something in common with and start supporting each other in any way possible. As for me, this blog is my way of supporting others, especially those in my FP4H group, but I get supported just as much! Together, you can do much more than you can alone!
My salvation is God's grace, not my actions, but my joy and comfort in THIS life relies partly on my choices, good and bad. In order to feel the benefits and peace of becoming a new creation, I have to live up to my responsibilities. I would rather do that together with others doing it as well than to try to do it alone!