Lifelines October 21, 2018

Christians have been born again.  That is a remarkable reality that has gotten lost in the current marginalizing of religion. “Church” has been reduced to little more than a place we go on Sunday if we can squeeze it into our schedule.  Rather than defining who we are, it is simply seen as a building.  That is just one of the symptoms of a much deeper problem.

What is the real issue?  The word of God speaks in terms of Christians being new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).  That does not indicate that we are the same old people who just happen to come together on Sunday.  It is more than an external makeover.  It is not cosmetic, it is a transformation deep within the heart of a person.  Christians do not merely look different.  Their essence is changed, and that controls their behavior.

The Lord deals with people at their deepest level.  Jesus turned the religious world upside down with His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.  His audience knew the Law and its prohibition on such practices as adultery and murder (Matthew 5:21-29).  His exposition of those principles took them far beyond the visible actions to their roots in anger and lust.  Deal with them, and the actions will take care of themselves.

God wants our hearts.  That is more than what we do.  It is who we are.  Change our identity, and behavior follows.  Long before Jesus presented His revolutionary teachings, the prophets told of a coming day in which God would do His work within people (Ezekiel 36:26-27).  The time would arrive when He would engrave His words inside of His children (Jeremiah 31:33).  Commands etched on hearts are much more meaningful than those written on stones.

The word of God is the best cardiologist in the world.  It will probe us way beneath the skin and expose what is within.  We can cover our lives with the holiest veneer money can buy, but we cannot fool Him.  We see actions.  He examines motives and desires, and His word will reveal them to us as well.  It is a look worth taking.  He is fully aware of our condition.  We better be, too.

Becoming a Christian changes a person’s perspective.  They are united with Christ in baptism, and their lives reflect it.  Goals and strategies are altered.  There is a fresh outlook.  Their focus is less on self and more on the Lord and their fellow man.  Love is the underlying principle in their interaction with others, serving instead of being served.  Giving replaces taking, as they start to understand what constitutes a genuinely blessed life.

The journey begins with something as simple as hearing the message of one who loved us enough to die for us.  Convinced of that, we begin an investigation which brings us face-to-face with the Savior.  He came to give us a fresh start.  It shows.  We are new creations.