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BECOMING A NEW PERSON IN CHRIST: 2 Corinthians 5:17

BECOMING A NEW PERSON IN CHRIST: 2 Corinthians 5:17

By Ted Schroder,
www.tedschroder.com
October 15, 2017

Jesus invites us to become a new person in the kingdom of God. "I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full -- abundant life" (John 10:10). He wants to:
• Heal us from our past -- to put shame, and guilt in the rearview mirror.
• Make a difference in our present -- to experience the fullness of Christ's blessing today and to share that blessing with others.
• Invite us to be fully involved in his future plans -- to enter into and serve in the new kingdom he is building for all eternity.

Little by little, day by day, through faith and the power of his presence, he wants to transform us into his image and likeness.

The entire movement of Jesus is empowered by his presence. The wind of the Spirit is activated in our lives when we live as Jesus did every day of his life while on earth -- align his life to the Father's will and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish all things.

Dallas Willard lays out an important threefold process, using the word VIM to get Christians motivated and moving. Vim comes from the Latin word vis and means "to have direction, strength, power, motivation, energy and vigor." V stands for Vision, I stand for Intention, and M stands for Means.

The first step is to embrace the Vision of Jesus in your life. Jesus wants you to follow him and become like him. Ask yourself: How would my life improve and my relationships be strengthened if:
1. I sacrificially and unconditionally loved and forgave others? (Love)
2. I had inner contentment and purpose in spite of my circumstances (Joy)
3. I was free from anxiety, because things are right with God, others and myself (Peace)
4. I took a long time to overheat and instead endured patiently under life's pressures? (Patience)
5. I chose to do the right things in my relationships with others (Kindness/Goodness)
6. I established a good name with others, based on my long-term loyalty in those relationships? (Faithfulness)
7. I was thoughtful, calm and considerate in my dealings with others? (Gentleness)
8. I had the power through Christ to control myself? (Self-control)
9. I coped with the hardships of life and faced with courage the prospect of death through the hope I have in Jesus Christ? (Hope)
10. I chose to esteem others above myself? (Humility)

If you became this type of person, what difference would it make in your life? What difference would it make to the people around you? This is the description of life in the kingdom to come. Jesus invites us to start living this new way of life now. Is this your vision?

The second step is Intention. Intention follows Vision. A person who has a vision but no intention is a mere dreamer. In the spiritual life we must be intentional -- deliberate, premeditative, calculating and purposeful -- about becoming a mature Christian disciple. We must make time in our lives to become the person God means us to be. The road to hell is paved with good intentions -- people who never get around to making the decisions in the management of their time, in identifying and working on deficiencies in their character and behavior, in their relationships, in the attention they give to what ought to be important to them.

Over the years I have kept a journal where I noted my intentions to work on different aspects of my life. I go back and review them from time to time to see what progress I have made. I look at my calendar to see where I am spending my time -- or is it God's time, the time he has given me on earth to prepare for heaven? I look at my finances to see where I am spending my money -- or is it God's money, the money he has made me a steward of? Am I intentional in how I plan my life and how I take into consideration the needs of my loved ones and others who have a claim on me? If I am not intentional it will not happen.

The third step is Means. To move beyond mere "good intentions," we need to put in place a thoughtful, practical plan for developing Christian maturity. We need to identify the spiritual disciplines that move our belief from our heads to our hearts. These are:

1. Bible Study that helps us focus on what God wants us to know and think. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things" (Phil 4:8-9). Every morning I spend the first hour of the day meditating on the Scriptures and other devotional material. I use the Scripture Union Encounter with God notes. They lead me through a comprehensive Bible reading program with historical background and contemporary application. I participate in a Bible Study group each week.
2. Private, Daily, Worship and Prayer. I turn the truths I learn from the Scriptures into prayer. I begin with praise: focusing on the descriptions of God as good, holy, love, creator, redeemer, forgiving. Then there is thanksgiving for all of God's gifts and his answers to prayer. I confess my sins, my pride, hardness of heart, selfishness, lack of love. Then I pray for the day ahead of me, for the people I will meet and the work I need to do; for my family and friends, for members of my church and other ministries. All this requires solitude and silence -- the ability to be alone with God, to enjoy fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The more we cultivate these virtues the less we will feel alone and lonely, the less we will feel the need for activity and society to fill our lives. Jesus went off by himself to pray -- if he needed to how much more do we need to?
3. Public, Weekly, Worship and Fellowship. I join together with all the saints to sing praises, hear the Word of God taught, pray for one another, gather around the Lord's Table, and strengthen the bonds of love with other members of the Body of Christ. We receive and give mutual encouragement that moves us beyond our individual concerns to the concerns of others. It also enables us to fly the flag for Christ and the Gospel in our community.

All these steps are needed if you are become a new person in Christ. Commit yourself to these steps as you are able and you will become a mature Christian who will grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, hope and humility.

(Taken from Think Act Be Like Jesus, Randy Frazee, pp.240-251)

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