As a church, we are seeking to grow in prayerfulness in the year ahead. As we move into another calendar year of ministry, we are asking the Lord to do 6 things in us as His people. This is our prayer…Wake Us. Humble Us. Change Us. Anchor Us. Unite Us. Send Us.
When we give our lives to Jesus, at the moment of conversion, we are changed. We are given the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of us. Our heart of stone is removed and we are given a heart of flesh. Our sin is covered by the blood of Christ and we’ve been born again. A new identity is given.
Changed in an instant, and then for the rest of our lives, we are to continue to experience change and growth. You see in places like Colossians 3:1-17, this idea that the Christian then spends the rest of their life putting off the old ways, and putting on the new ones. And they do so because of the new identity we have in Christ.
In Christ we have a new identity that calls us to live for Him and not ourselves. Because we’ve placed our faith in Jesus and His work on the cross, we are considered blameless and holy in the sight of God. Because again, His blood purifies us from our sin.
But what we won’t find on this side of Heaven is perfection. We will experience the effects of remaining sin in our lives. That old habit or way of life will try and reclaim room in our lives. That bitterness will try and linger. That pride and selfishness will attempt to take new ground.
And what can happen in a Christian’s life is that we begin to tolerate this widening gap between what we say we believe and how we actually live. We can begin to justify it, or make excuses for it, or just say, well, I’m not perfect, but then use that as an excuse to avoid asking the Lord to change us.
The goal for the Christ follower is not to become a better version of ourselves. Or an improved version of who we once were. The goal, the vision, is to become like Jesus (1 John 2:6). To reflect Him, to pursue a Christlikeness in our words, thoughts, relationships, and attitudes.
Jesus prays in John 17:17, Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
The process of growing in Christlikeness is called sanctification. And so that change happens by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God. The Word that is truth. That truth is to change us. It is to conform us into His image.
So if our prayer is change us, then we must be a people who seek to delight in the Word and dig into it consistently. Otherwise, we will be pulled toward comparing ourselves to those around us and say, well, we’re good.
But our prayer is not that we’d settle or be stunted in our growth, but rather that we’d continually say to the Lord, change us.
Lord, we don’t want to conform to this world. We want you to transform us by renewing our minds.
“Lord, change us” is the picture that we see in Hebrews 12…
Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
What needs to be laid aside in your life right now? What sin is clinging far too closely to your life?
And let’s not just reduce thinking of sins as those things we do with our hands or eyes. Let’s also bring to light the sin that is prone to cling too closely to our hearts.
Cynicism, anger, bitterness, slander, gossip, hate, doubt, worry, unbelief…
You don’t find any of those listed in the fruit of the Spirit. Because all of those are fruits of our flesh. And we must be a people who say, Lord change us. By your power, lay this sin aside in my life. By your power, I want to put it off and put on the things of Christ instead.
May the Lord give us a sweet, tender spirit of repentance that sweeps across our church. May we encourage one another as we see the Spirit bring about change in us.