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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The past is done

12-14I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
(Philippians 3:12-14)

You have probably heard it said that the only constant thing in life is change.  There is much truth to that idea - change is inevitable - one way or another.  I looked up the definition of change in the dictionary and this is what I found - to make the form, nature, content, or future course of something/someone different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.  Consider what we would be like if we were left alone.  What would the content of our life be like if Jesus was not an active part of the change we experience in our life?  What would the course of our life include?  Let's drill down on this just a little:
  • The form of our lives - that which manifests what we are, what we hold to be true, and what we count as important in life.  If there is anything that brings quality to our life, creates a good attitude in our minds, or involves us in activities that are honoring and upright, we receive that from God through Jesus.  The "form" of our lives is directly impacted by the one we embrace - just as a "mold" gives a certain structure to that which is placed within it.  If we embrace Christ, the change we experience to our "form" is that of being made into his image - we become the manifestation of who he is.
  • The nature of our lives - the combination of all the qualities that belong to a person that are revealed in the tendencies we exhibit in the conduct of our lives.  We often refer to our "nature" as our temperament - our disposition to certain things in life.  Many times, we might find that our temperament is defined by our nurturing - if nurtured well, we tend to conduct our lives with a reasonable sense of good judgment; if nurtured poorly, we might not develop the same sense of responsible conduct.  Jesus can take the sum total of our nurture (how we have been raised and what influences us most in life) and our nature (our internal make-up including our talents, skills, and tendencies) and transform them into that which consistently produces conduct that is fitting of a child of God.  Without that transformation, we often struggle with the temperament we have formed over the years.
  • The content of our lives - content gives us significance.  When we feel we have little to offer in a situation, we feel "insignificant" - we see ourselves as lacking what will lend to the situation, therefore we see our contribution as "worthless".  Unfortunately, the content of our lives is made up of what we have experienced, how we have interpreted those experiences, what we have learned, and what we have "unlearned".  That said, if we have allowed "content" that is not quite "right" into our lives, we have probably established patterns of behavior that keep us feeling like we are insignificant.  One thing I want us to understand - in Christ, we are made new.  The old content is replaced with new - we take on Christ, and we put off the old patterns of behavior, the old patterns of thought, the old failures of our past.  
  • The future course of our lives - when we asked Christ into our lives, we opened the door for change.  We actually invited change to occur - not once, but consistently.  We asked for the influences of our past to be diminished, and the influences of our present to be affected deeply by the hope that we find in Christ alone.  We invited the Holy Spirit into permanent residence within us - to direct the future course of our lives.  
Paul tells us in our passage that he knows he is imperfect - he doesn't have it all together.  He recognizes that his past had many things that needed to be changed - but he could not change the past, only his future.  We get all wigged out by our past - because it influences our present form, nature, and content of life.  BUT...the past is DONE.  We now must look toward the future.  That is where change really takes hold.  Transformation is a work of the present and the future - not the past.  

Press toward that which will make you whole - don't hold onto that which will diminish you any further.