Learning to reject our ‘old’ identity and habits for our ‘new’ identity in Christ is an ongoing struggle for dominance in our Christian psyche.
Each heart that confesses the name of Christ and invites & submits to His presence as ‘Lord” and savior in our heart, has activated a soul transforming process catalyzed by the Holy Spirit.
No one can experience the presence of Christ within one’s heart and mind without being affected. It reorients and rearranges our spiritual DNA into something ‘new’ and ‘different’ than what was ‘us’ … before.
Speaking only for myself, and quoting directly from my own personal journal entry, the process looks and feels like this;
I can sense the old patterns of thought, behavior, self-condemnation, guilt, and shame are being slowly replaced with a new confidence in the power and presence of Christ within me. The ‘old’ brad is almost gone, the new ‘brad’ is slowly emerging from the shadows of my past life. The habits, tendencies, and temptations of two decades ago are no longer a constant, living, memory, within my heart and mind. New habits and affections have replaced the old. My soul, heart, and mind are coming into alignment and my sense of becoming ‘whole’ is growing inside of me. The more ‘wholeness’ I sense, the less restlessness remains. The transformation of my identity from old to new is reducing my wandering heart and diminishing my anxieties and fears.
The alignment of who I am in Christ with how I see myself, this is the new-growth of my current identity. I’m moving away from the ‘old’ man and actively leaning into the ‘new’ creation I was promised in scripture. This convergence of the internal and external man is what I mean by ‘wholeness’.
For me (and I believe for you too), the convergence of the promised and the present within, this is the hidden work of God’s Holy Spirit. He’s gently remaking me (us). We are works in progress, transitioning from being motivated by a restless and uncertain heart to a more grounded and comfortable one. A hidden transformation expanding from within. This growing sense of inner peace and contentment is firmly connected to my (our) growing understanding of who and whose I am.
The Christian life is more than a static existence, more than a series of devotions and disciplines, it is a transformational journey. A hidden supernatural work within that recreates our very identities and deepest passions.
God is re-writing His laws upon our hearts, as he repeatedly promised and prophesied. The presence of Christ within changes everything, and that my fellow believer, is the eternal power of the Gospel.
May the peace of Christ guard you’re ‘heart’ and mind.
Father Brad Mathias
Recently, our church has been participating in a study of the Apostles creed… in the process, I was challenged to reconsider some basic assumptions behind the Christian faith again.
The Apostles creed has been widely recognized and revered since the 4th century. Considered to contain the basic building blocks of our Christian world view it has been studied and respected as a key cornerstone of essential Christian theology for almost 2000 years. A solid foundation for believers to refer to in times of confusion and doubt, the Apostles Creed has endured since 390 AD.
“I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth. (opening line of the Creed)
These words, carefully discerned and recorded have guided countless millions of Christians over the millennia and provides us a rich context from which to contemplate.
In the church study, we were asked to read and explore the passage of Isaiah 40:21-32. It’s a beautiful and poetic expression of the magnitude and grandeur of God. When you read the words and phrases… you can’t help but sense the awesome size and strength of God contrasted with the infinitesimal smallness of mankind.
It reminded me of how infrequently I pause to consider the nature of God. To remember just how big “HE” truly is and how small I really am.
Why is this helpful?
Who has the time to jump off our merry-go-round of modern- spastic -life… who has the space in their schedule to slow down enough to just ‘think’ ? It would have to be pretty important to grab my attention. A life crisis, tragic loss, or a career change might make me…but it takes a lot to get me to slow.
Abstract stuff is hard for me to value. I tend to major on things tangibly observed and assessed. If it’s theoretical or contemplative… I’m not making it a priority.
But for this study… I was forced to break the pattern.
When I did stop to consider, something vital resurfaced in my soul. Long dormant feelings of reverence, awe, and mystery slowly emerged as I remembered basic truths that had faded over the months and years. Faith became simple again. Simple, but profound.
God really is the “BIG G” in life, and I’m the infinitesimally small little ‘b’.
Why does that matter? It matters because without this basic truth front and center again in my over-stimulated brain… I won’t slow down. I won’t find rest for my weary soul. I’ll rush headlong into the ‘obvious’ until I re-align my beliefs to fit the truth of scripture and to concentrate on things like the Apostles Creed.
It helps to re-focus on how I think about God, about myself.
When I do, I gain perspective. If God is the “BIG G”… then I surrender my plans for his. I stop running ahead of him, insisting he hurry up! With perspective I stop forcing myself to do more, to work harder… to sacrifice more painfully in my futile attempt to get God to back my latest ‘scheme’.
Instead… when I see God as the “BIG G” again and I’m the little ‘b’, He immediately takes charge. I choose in an instant of clarity to let him ‘pick’ for me and I simply ‘follow’. Life becomes so much less exhausting.
God needs to be the “BIG G” if you and I ever want to live at Peace with each other and with Him. Nothing else will do for the Christian. Isaiah 40:21-32 is a powerful reminder to choose to ‘wait’ on God in all the places of life where we have ‘run-ahead’ and in doing so… live exhausted and barely alive.
There is a better way.