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Posts Tagged ‘born again’

I was reading 2 Corinthians earlier, and it reminded me that it’s important to monitor our spiritual temperature. I know, you can’t remember where that thermometer is, right? Me either. That’s no problem, because taking our spiritual temperature doesn’t require any special equipment, just a willingness to be honest. Here’s the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:14-18)

How does this fit in with taking our spiritual temperature? The answer lies in the first few words: “For Christ’s love compels us”. How compelled are you to share the good news of God’s grace with lost people? Would you respond to God’s voice with “not my will but yours, Lord”, or would you ignore Him if He’s asking you to do something difficult or inconvenient?

Christ’s love compels us to reach out to the lost, to be His “ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (v. 20) I hate to admit it, but my spiritual temperature has been rather lukewarm lately. I’ve allowed the devil to use my emotional struggles to discourage, distract and disarm me. My focus has shifted away from God and onto myself, my feelings, my pain, my heartache.

There is a time to focus on ourselves. Introspection is an important part of letting God’s light shine on our brokenness, so that He can heal us. However, if we’re not careful, the devil will take what God means for our good and distort it for his purpose, namely, our harm.

Here are some indicators to watch for if you sense that your spiritual temperature isn’t quite what it should be:

  • “that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them…” Who are you living for? Is God on the throne in every area of your life? Living for ourselves is a dead-end street. Joy and peace cannot be found in the cul-de-sac of self-absorption.
  • “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” Once we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit enables us to see people through God’s eyes. His vantage point is not superficial or worldly. Rather, He sees our need for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. When we get a revelation about the depth of our own brokenness and God’s love, we will develop a “fervour fever”, burning to share what God has done.
  • “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” Are you bored with your Christian walk? Wish you had a high-profile ministry position? Change your vantage point. God has given all of us the most significant ministry going – the ministry of reconciliation. It’s our “raison d’être” as Christians.

So, how’s your temperature? If you’ve allowed the enemy to distract, discourage and disarm you, don’t give him the extra ammunition of guilt and shame. Remember who you are in Christ: Totally forgiven, reconciled to the Father, deeply loved, and significant. And remember His promise: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

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That rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it? You might be wondering, “how can someone be born again again?” I’m glad you asked! Maybe I should try rephrasing it. Recently I had an experience that, in the natural, could easily have ended in my funeral. But because God was there, protecting me, I’m still here – and pretty much intact, to boot! I know God could have taken me home, but He chose not to. As a result, I feel like I’ve been snatched from the grave, born again again – and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude, simply because I’m alive.

This has an amazing way of instantly putting life in perspective. Things that were consuming me with worry before my incident suddenly seem trite, insignificant, really not worth focusing on. Hurt feelings, emotional struggles, difficult relationships, all melt away next to the sobering realization that I’m so blessed to be alive, to have people who genuinely care about me – to be really well provided for and loved.

The other thing I’ve come away from my “close call” with is a rekindled fire in my heart to care about what God cares about, and to live my life accordingly. I’m not talking about some sort of mental assent or new-found determination to be “a better person”. I mean that the lense through which I see life, through which I see my own existence, has changed radically – and pretty much instantly. I find myself wondering, “how can I turn a blind eye to the immense suffering in the world when I am so extravagantly blessed in every way?” and, “God must have spared me for a reason – He must have plans to use me, things for me to do.”

This is where I’ve longed to live for ages. I find a huge sense of freedom in realizing that life is fragile and fleeting. God really is in control, not me. He can take me home at any time. I’m here for a purpose, and it’s not about gratifying my own selfish desires. There is a higher calling! Somewhat paradoxically, I don’t feel afraid of death any more. I feel excited about life, about this adventure with Jesus. When He’s ready to take me home, I’ll be ready to go.

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In Charismatic circles, the idea of “revival” figures prominently. Think about the whole Lakeland situation recently. What exactly are people expecting when they anticipate revival? It seems to me that just about every year since I was born again, (1995) there have been various streams of Christianity proclaiming the “year of revival” or something similar.
I love words, so I had to look up the definition and origin of the word “revival”. At first glance, it seems to me to mean “to be born again” or “reborn” (why does that sound familiar?) I think Christians often mean something more than the initial conversion experience when they talk about revival, though. They mean, somehow, a re-rebirth. Or a rebirth and a re-rebirth. We all want “revival”, right? We want an instant transformation above and beyond where we presently are. We want a shortcut to glory, to “victory”.

Personally, I don’t want that sort of “revival”, because I know I’m already alive. I want sanctification – or at least I know I need it! That’s the painful aspect of Christianity. Yeah, I want to die, not to be re-born again. I was reborn in 1995. I’m grateful beyond words for the fact that Jesus intercepted me and put me on the narrow path. But since then, whether I’ve realized/embraced it or not, what I need and want is sanctification. I need to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is discipleship. Being born-again, or revived, is the first step in a lifetime journey. The rest of the voyage is difficult. Jesus did not promise us a life of ease. Being His disciple is hard.

The concept of “revival” is popular in our day and age, because people don’t want the hard work of discipleship. They (we) want the instant-miracle-deliverance-altar-call, the “drive-thru breakthrough”. Who in their right mind wants to struggle through problems? Who in their right mind would willingly be crucified, knowing that He was innocent, knowing the agony He’d endure?

So, it’s easy to understand why Christians want to flock to “revival” meetings. But I wonder about the wisdom of doing so. Jesus calls us to the “road less travelled”, so to speak. He promises us hardship and difficulty, but He has ultimately overcome the world. Can He heal and deliver in an instant? Yes! Is this His habitual mode of operation?

What do you think?

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