Born again--we use those words without stopping to think what they really mean to our lives. They would stick like peanut butter in our mouths if we did.
As Christians our lives have begun again, this time with loving Christ as its new center instead of loving ourselves. Or at least, so we say. We even want it to be so, granted. We sing 'Jesus is the center of my world' and blissfully believe it.
However, since all of life stems from its center, we are pretty stupid if we think we can change that center without affecting everything else--or, inversely, that we've changed the center if we fixed everything else. Transformation is not the same as fixing. Polishing a bicycle's frame doesn't, strictly speaking, transform it. However, it is transformed if it sprouts wings and ceases to be a bicycle.
Love is a transforming emotion. It transforms the eyes with which we see, rather than the things we see. When we fall in love with someone we begin to see everything relative to the beloved (and get teased.) When we fall in love with Christ we ought to see everything relative to Him (even if we get teased.)
Loving Christ doesn't merely mean we fix the Sundays of our life to match Him, and fix the way we talk (most of the time) to match Him. That's a delusion of what it means to love--a popular delusion because an easy, unthinking formula. If you love your wife, you have to buy her flowers once a week, kiss her every morning, and tell people you love her. If you love Jesus, you have to tithe, go to church, and tell people you love Him. No need to think so much. No need to change so much. Jesus and your wife and everyone else will definitely be convinced you love them.
One of the greatest temptations I see in my own life and in the culture that we live in today, is the temptation to live unthinkingly. Living without thinking is bad enough as it is, but for Christians specifically I believe it's one of the most common and most harmful mistakes.
When we put Christ at the center of our lives, it means our lives will change. When our lives change, the first and inevitable step is to think. To examine ourselves, we have to first think. To realize something about ourselves, we have to first think. To change, in fact, we have to first think.
This world we live in does not challenge us to think. It challenges us merely to react. Reacting without thinking, of course, is hardly a wise idea, and anything but purposeful. And Christians live their new lives with a new purpose: as ambassadors of the Love that gave us life. And as ambassadors, as with any representative role, living unthinkingly is, well, unthinkable.
Let's keep it simple--only as much as fits in the ordinary teenager's life. The music filtering through my earphones, my mind, and out from my mouth. The news of suffering and need boring through my peace of mind, the beggar's eyes as I walked quickly past; the prickles of uneasy guilt with which I forgot them. The desires which are my puppeteers, motivating me so skilfully I don't think twice about the strings working my words and actions...I looked at one day in my life and it was enough.
Seeing all things relative to Christ. For me, that means I listen for shades of His beauty and echoes of the hope He brings, in my music. Consciously avoid (again, you must think in order to realize) what I find distracts me from Him. Respond to the news of others suffering, not in apathy and dismissal, but in sympathy and help--whether that means getting involved or sharing your resources or simply praying for those you cannot help otherwise. Prayer may not seem a very satisfactory answer to the problems of the world. But I believe that at the very least it protects us from becoming increasingly callous and indifferent to the suffering of others, which we eventually become if we keep shrugging it off. The guilt which pricks us uncomfortably at first becomes duller as we get smarter and harder. It's probably just a sensational rumour; you know how unreliable these internet reports are--there, I feel good again, and smart into the bargain. I can't help everyone, can I?--this way I won't have to help anyone.
We reason ourselves into apathy.
There are so many realizations ahead once your mind engages with what it used to run away from.
Think. Examine. Realize. Act.
For too much of our lives we are content to putter around looking at our tires, polishing a patch here on the frame, changing a gear, without once remembering that that's not actually what it's all about. We are born again--not to fix ourselves and make our lives look nicer. We are born again in the true sense of the word--transformed, in our eyes with which we see the world, our heart with which we feel, our mind with which we understand. We don't, however often realize this--that we need to involve our mind, our heart, our eyes, and not just be satisfied with our external actions.
Jesus didn't come to fix our tires. He came to give us wings.
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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