“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
This weekend I updated my software system for my cell phone. I go back and forth between pretty geeked up about what the new system offers, and being very sad that the highlight of my weekend was updating my phone. “What did you do this weekend?” We went hiking the Grand Canyon. Went sky diving and had a picnic after. Went hi-wire walking over Niagra Falls.” Me: hit that update your software notification, sat back and watched the magic happen. What has happened to my life?
That being said, the update is pretty cool. Most of the time these periodic updates don’t do much. a little more protection to keep the hackers at bay, but that’s pretty much it. But every now and then the entire system changes. new features, all sorts of bells and whistles. There is a new app that helps you calculate your bed time and will remind you when it’s time to go to bed and when you need to get up. Becuase apparently we are all four and the phone has become our mom. Can you imagine that conversation:
Phone: It’s time to go to bed.
Phone: It’s time to go to bed.
Me: In a minute the game is almost done.
Phone: NOW MISTER!
Me: Yes, ma’am.
But while I like the system, and the new features, its not without it’s difficulties. First of all it’s different and change always takes time to get used to. I am still trying to get into my phone in the old way and have to remind myself that it doesn’t work that way. Eventually my muscle memory will adjust. But right now it takes some doing. Having new features means old features go away. The old and the new cannot exist together. The old must make way for the new.
So it is with the Chrsitian life, and often where we struggle. Giving our life to Christ is incredible. It’s wonderful. In many ways when we give our life to Christ is like getting a completley new software system for our souls. New outlook, new life. And it’s wonderful.
But there is a part of us that longs for the old. Its the constant struggle as a Christian in having our old life, our old way of doing things calls to us. Change is hard. It’s not always that we are sinful, so much that we crave the familiar. Life is Jesus is new. Its unfamiliar and it can be scary.
I think that’s why, when Paul writes to the early church one of the big battles he constantly addresses is the desire for the people to go back to their old ways. Either to go back to the law, or back to their sin. Paul has to remind them, over and over that they are a new creation and should not allow the old way or the world to conform them to what they were, but to allow Jesus to make them into what they could be.
Paul would remind them that not only was the old life gone it was dead. nailed to the cross. Don’t go back to the dead, go to the new life. Martin Luther would often remind himself, when tempted that his old life had been crucified and that, as a baptized believer, he was new.
Maybe you’re struggling with that old pull. Please let me encourage you not to go back, but to go forward into the new life Jesus offers. Trust me, just as we develop muscle memory and adapt, we will develop a spiritual muscle memory of sorts. And as we continue to walk with Jesus it gets easy. It becomes the “New Normal.” So carry on and always look for the new update as Jesu continues to form you into His image.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><