Where do we go from here?
Last updated 1/10/2008 at Noon
A four-point checklist to revitalize your spiritual life in 2008
Don’t you think it’s cool how God designed our life with constant new beginnings? That’s what the New Year brings around every year. The earth makes a 365-day journey around the sun and then starts over again. And we get to start over too. There’s grace in the very rhythm of the year!
I don’t know about you, but I need a fresh start. I get stuck in old patterns, I get discouraged, I’d like to try something again and see if it works. Every day God gives us a fresh canvas to paint, and he hands us a new year as if to say, “See what you can do with this.”
At the very end of the Bible we see a vision of Jesus sitting on the throne of heaven, and he says, “Look, I am making all things new!” And he invites us to participate in that newness. “New” means “restored to its original beauty and vitality.” But it also means, “here’s something you haven’t seen before.” God is inexhaustibly creative, and he invites us to let him create something new in us and through us.
“If anyone is in Christ, you are a new creation.” (2Cor 5:17) And, “because Christ was raised from the dead to glorious life through the Father’s power, now we can live new lives too!” (Rom 6:4)
So here we are at the starting line of a new year with the power of Christ who makes all things new available to us. Where do we go from here?
Here’s a four-point checklist—four important areas that can revitalize your relationship with God.
First, intimacy. God invites us into a love-relationship whose nearest counterpart is marriage. For some reason, we resist believing this and spend a lot of our time thinking God is mad at us or we’ve failed him miserably, and so we either avoid intimacy with God or we substitute spiritual busyness.
Look at this amazing verse in Psalm 27—“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek.’”
God says, “Seek my face.” That’s about as clear an invitation to get close as you’ll ever hear. It’s an invitation into intimate friendship. And so, resolve this New Year to spend the time each week to make him a dear friend. Time in his Word listening, time in genuine heart-to-heart conversation.
Second, holiness. Which means two things. Holiness is a character undefiled by sin. If God has taken you into his family, you should have a family resemblance. Holiness also means, “set apart for God.” You can recognize where people are from by their clothes or accent. People should be able to look at you and tell you belong to God.
So holiness has two aspects—(1) repenting of sin and stuff that distract and detract from your true spiritual identity, and (2) resolving to obey God when you know what he wants you to do.
Third, growth. Challenge yourself to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pet 3:18) Many Christians have no regular habit of Bible reading and reflection. If that’s you, go out and get yourself a good study Bible (like the NIV Study Bible or the Life Application Bible) and start plowing through it. Find a good Bible reading plan and stick to it.
When I was 13, I began reading the Bible through every year. The Bible is your basic spiritual education. I circled words and underlined phrases I felt the Holy Spirit wanted to impress on me. I jotted down notes in the margins. In just a few months I could see I was making major progress.
I also loved reading the explanatory notes and introductions. That’s a good way to get a quick overview of the history and themes of the whole Bible.
Finally, mission. The mission of our life is to so live in the power of the Holy Spirit and under the lordship of Jesus Christ that “the kingdom of God” is established in our inner life (our mind, heart, attitudes, values, character) and in every external area of life that God has given us influence in.
What would our life look like if God were truly King over it? What would the world around us look like if the wisdom and grace and values of the Spirit-empowered Jesus were released into it? That’s our mission in life. Jesus said, “The Father sent me; now I’m sending you.”
Your mission is the total conversion of yourself as you surrender more and more every day to Jesus Christ. And…the transformation of the world around you by the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit operating through you. Every believer is a missionary. That’s your mission.