From Pastor Tom for January 2020: “Renovation or Recreation”

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For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:10

This is the time for New Year’s resolutions: setting new goals, vowing to lose that weight you can’t seem to lose, tackling things you have been putting off, making some progress toward a new you. But there is something quite flawed with that kind of thinking. I’m going to quote Craig Barnes at length here because he says it so well:

After a while you get tired of self-improvement
programs. You stop trying new diets. You give up
looking for the big business deal. You let the membership
at the health club expire. Maybe you even
stop trying to be a better Christian. “I am what I
am,” you think, “and people are just going to have
to accept that.” But if your life is anything less than
a reflection of Jesus Christ, then you’re pretending
to be something less than who you really are.

Our true identity is given to us by God. So when
people say things like, “You’ll have to get used to
my bad temper because that’s just who I am,” they
are not really telling the truth. Paul claimed we are
what God has made us. And God did not make us
angry, or hurt, or mean. God created us in Christ
Jesus for good works. Paul didn’t tell us that so we
would keep striving to improve ourselves. We can’t
recreate our lives. But God can. In Christ Jesus
that is exactly what he is doing—turning you into a
new creation.

The closer you draw to Jesus, the more you will
notice wonderful changes in your life. It is not unlike
the changes that happen to people who spend
their lives in love. Over the years they shape and
mold each other. Sometimes they even start to look
like each other. That’s because being in love, especially
with Jesus, brings out the best in you.

Resolutions focus on what I can do to improve myself. We tend to approach self-improvement like we are renovating a room in our house. We focus on that one room and try to make it better. We may put a new coat of paint on the walls, buy some new furniture, replace the curtains or the carpets, and when we are done we have a new room.

What God has in mind is recreation. All He wants is the permission to build. He may take us down to our foundations and build from scratch. His goal is not to renovate—His goal is to recreate us in His image.

The key to becoming this new person is to get out of the way and let God do His work. It’s a process of yielding our lives to the master builder and allowing Him to build according to His plan and design. When we give our lives to God in love, His power takes up residence deep inside our hearts, and everything begins to change. His energy and transforming power begins to work, and we are changed from the inside out.

Once in a while you see the dramatic changes to new Christians and marvel at the new person they have become, but it is something that all of us can experience each and every year of our lives. It may happen more slowly, but the transformation will be just as complete.

So let’s not think about self improvement. Let’s consider how we can become the people we were created by God to be. As we learn to love God and get closer and closer to Him that’s who we will become.

May you have a blessed new year in the Lord!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tom

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