Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1: 3-5

Jesus has come into the world in order to redeem people from our natural state of spiritual death. He will come again in order to do that same work of redemption for a final time, and at that time He will complete the redemption from the corruption of sin for all of creation as well. Yet, until that final work is done, we can live as new beings in Christ, for God desires for us to exist in a close, an intimate, relationship with Him. So, He sent Christ into this world to provide each person upon it with the way and the means of departure from that certain death that was ours from birth. Thus, it is as if we were literally born anew into this world, for we are granted a new beginning and a restart for our journey through life. Although the past is not erased, we are born into a form of grace and forgiveness that provides us with a new perspective on how we are to live and what we need to do in order to repair the damage that we may have done to our relationships during the conduct of our former lives.

In this rebirth comes a great hope for the future. This is certainly an eternal future that, in Christ, we are promised by God to spend in Heaven. It is also a hope that spreads across the remaining days of our lives here on earth. We will live out our days here in the presence of the Spirit, and we are granted God’s grace, love, and mercy as underpinning for the way that we think, speak, and act during those remaining days. This is a journey of faith, for it is not something that is fully fleshed out and completed in that instance of acceptance of Christ. Rather, it is a work that is carried out within each of us by the Spirit, and it grows and develops as we yield up our lives to Christ and surrender our wills to His far greater purposes for us. In a real sense, we are called upon by God to seek after Heaven during our lives on earth, but that seeking is not oriented toward an escape from this world so much as it is intended to have us work toward bringing the righteousness and the justice of Heaven into the place where we dwell.

This does not mean that life here will be easy or that all of our days of troubles, trials, and pain will be behind us after we turn to Christ. What it does mean is that we will go through these times with Christ in us and with the companionship of His Spirit to provide us with the wisdom and strength that we require to stay true to our faith regardless of what we encounter. Thus, God’s mercy is granted to us. It comes in a form that does not remove us from the reality of life, but, instead, it grants to us a perspective on living that comes from beyond this world and that demonstrates to us the great hope that is ours in Jesus Christ, for in Christ we can see and understand the value of pain in this world as a common reality that is endured through Christ’s strength and that directs us into the presence of God as our source of comfort and of peace in the midst of the trial. So, God the Father sent Jesus Christ to redeem us from the certainty of death, and Christ now takes us out of our former lives, and through a new birth into a life that extends beyond the grave into eternity, He works through us to redeem the balance of creation.  

Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4: 24

 

Most people have dreams and aspirations toward things that we would like to do or skills and qualities that we would like to have. When we are young, these are often at their wildest and most imaginative; then, we aspire to be athletes, super heroes, great thinkers, inventors, and actors. As life progresses we continue to hold dreams and desires for things that we would like to do and for ways that we would like to have influence in our world. God made us with hearts and minds that keep looking outwardly and ahead toward new and greater challenges. It would seem that our Creator gave us the gift of aspiration.

 

Yet, as we are in a relationship with Christ, the greatest thing that we can aspire toward is actually found within ourselves. Christ has called us to become totally new beings. We are now people who are different in all of the ways that are truly important. Christ transforms us into being people who are living lives that have lasting impact and eternal consequences. Thus, as the Spirit of Christ becomes a part of us, we are transformed by our Lord in a way that opens us up to the on-going and life long process of recreation that God has promised to perform in each of His children.

 

Our part in this process is vital. I need to recognize the need for change, accept the truth about how God is calling me to think and behave, and stay humbly repentant for the ways that I will fail to live in the righteous manner that the Lord desires for me. I also need to be a seeker after the truth that is the center piece of my new identity. There will be times when that truth is painfully revealing of how far I still have to go in order to have fully accepted my new self. Yet, this journey along the road toward the center of life is the greatest adventure that I could ever imagine, and the changes in myself that are the result of the travels bring me ever closer to being the person that my heart was created to desire to be.