God loves us just the way we are, but loves us way too much to let us stay this way.
Our faith, Christianity, is a wonderful thing, but sometimes we experience negative effects from an overwhelming amount of teachings, doctrines and 'dos & don'ts'. When voices are coming from so many different angles it’s easy to slip into confusion and loose the plot. We become so focused on the tree that we are in danger of not seeing the forest! When this happens we need to ‘re-group’ our thoughts, our hearts and minds. Every now and again we need a 'selah'. We need to take a pause, interlude and change of direction.
"Change is a perpetual constant."
The truth is that the Gospel is simple – paradoxically profoundly simple. Living God's will for our lives is the reason why we exist. But for all of us, life is a journey of change. Change is one of the only constantsthat we can count on; it is a perpetual constant. Change happens to us in two ways, firstly through conformity and secondly in transformation.
The good and perfect will of God is for us to truly be who He made us to be. When we were born, we were the closest to who God intended us to be. Conformity often takes us away from who we are whereas transformation restores us to who we were meant to be and who we should be. Transformation restores us to our 'original settings'. It is the process of God's restoration of our humanity.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV).
In the Fall we lost our true likeness of humanity; a fallen man or woman is not fully human. I know this is a serious statement, but it’s true. When we lost the glory of God at our fall, we also lost a part of our humanity, because we were created to be fully human when clothed in the glory and presence of God. Fallen ‘humanness’ was not and is not God’s plan. The process to becoming fully human again is transformation into Christ-likeness. Romans 8:28-29 shows that Christ-likeness is our destiny.
"Christianity is about being fully human and fully alive."
The transformation in Christianity is not a 'behaviour modification', but a change from the inside out. This means that we don't have to work hard to repress our sinful desires but, believe it or not, we can be free of them through Jesus. He promised, "if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36).
When we are kind, generous, forgiving, gracious, hopeful, merciful, meek, peacemakers, humble, hunger for righteousness, free from prejudices and believe the best in people - we experience what it means to be truly human. I love the Christmas season, because people show these qualities more. At Christmas time, people are more human -humanity is more fully alive!
Saint Irenaeus, an ancient church father from the 2nd Century, was famous for saying, "The glory of God is man fully alive." Christianity is about being fully human and fully alive. Yet sadly most of us focus on being a Christian to avoid going to hell, get caught up in a system of rules, or become 'Houdini Christians' who want to escape life on Earth. But Jesus didn't come to Earth to give us life insurance, He came to offer us abundant life (John 10:10). It is important that we present the Gospel as an offer to be fully alive, not an insurance policy to escape Hell or a set of principles.
"Jesus is our example of life and our hero."
We can experience life in its fullness when we become Christians because we are no longer separated from the Tree of Life, the Bread of Life, the Foundation of Living Water and the love of our Creator Father.
In the midst of all the world religions, only Christianity offers humankind the way back to being fully human, because God became fully human in the person of Jesus. God sanctified humanity when He Himself became a Man. Jesus is both our example for life and our hero: "Jesus Christ made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." (Philippians 2:7 NKJV). The Dominican monk, Friar Albert Nolan says, "If we deny Jesus of His humanity, we deny Him of His greatness."
The Gospel is excitingly simple yet deeply profound – it’s an offer to all humanity to become fully human again. It is an offer from the heart of the Father to be who He dreamed us to be, his people that are fully human and fully alive. Let’s share this message and see how it changes our world.
Father in Heaven, Your will be done, Your Kingdom come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.