Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life is in the Blood - RENEWAL

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Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
- Romans 12:2

Each rhythmic step I take on the desert trail paints a picture for me of how the circulatory system works under a “hyper” state. Muscles contract and extend requiring an increase in energy and oxygen. The liver and kidneys filter and maintain optimum balance. And finally, blood cell death must be balanced with blood cell renewal.

Similarly, I see how the circulatory system paints the picture of the everyday life of a disciple of Jesus (see diagram below). The closed loop system requires inputs from the life giving spiritual disciplines (oxygen) and Christ-like virtues (nutrition) as the reconciling power of the cross and resurrection (kidneys and liver) go about maintaining balance.

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My identity not unlike my blood cells must be renewed regularly. As I go about being in the world I must constantly refresh who I am and who I belong to. People and circumstances will try to place self-defeating constraints on me and you too. Ask yourself if your self image is incorrectly shaped by any of these.

·   Performance. If you perform well, you are accepted and considered acceptable.
·   Appearance. If your appearance measures up, you measure up.
·   Conformity. If you do as others do, you will escape ridicule.  
·   Purpose. If you achieve worldly success, you have arrived; otherwise you are a loser.

The distorting effects our culture has on us and the people we relate to shape our identity, if we let them. How about you? Who and what defines you?

By the grace of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross our dignity and identity are maintained despite the influence culture and individual people will impart on us. The core of our very being must be defined by the service of Christ and Him crucified.

We often confuse His work with our unattainable striving for goodness. We are declared righteous by our faith in the cross. Do you believe the blood of Jesus washes away your sin?

Only when we define ourselves by the truths of the WORD of God rather than the philosophies of the world can we discover our deepest identity (Colossians ). This is countercultural by a practice of renewal many times throughout the day. Have you gained ACCESS and OWNERSHIP to these truths?

·   I am a child of God. Read John 1:12.
·   I am grafted in to the vine of God. Read John 15:5.
·   I am a friend of Jesus. Read .
·   I am accepted and acceptable. Read Romans 15:7.
·   I am called a saint. Read 1 Corinthians 1:2.
·   I am no longer of hard mind. Read 2 Corinthians 3:14.
·   I am a new creation. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17.
·   I am the righteousness of God. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.
·   I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God. Read Ephesians 1:4.
·   I am God’s workmanship. Read Ephesians 2:10.
·   I am free. Read Galatians 5:1.
·   I am blessed. Read Ephesians 1:3.
·   I am light. Read Ephesians 5:8.
·   I am a citizen of heaven. Read Philippians 3:20.
·   I am whole and holy. Read Colossians 2:10.

This list is the only true reflection of who we are if we are in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:3). The world will try to add things to the list or take things away from us. Our own willful spirit apart from the leading of God’s Spirit will do the same. God’s Word shows us the truth. Despite what we feel, think, or do and in spite of what the world tells us, we are God’s masterwork (Ephesians , Romans ). He created us with the specific purpose to love Him and love others (Luke ).

So as blood cells are constantly being reproduced in the bone marrow to replace dying ones, so too, must the character and promises of God found in the WORD of God constantly refresh our hearts and minds (Romans 12:2).  

This is the last post in a six week series titled “Life is in the Blood.” It is an object lesson paralleling running and the everyday life of a disciple.

Be sure to check out next week as I start a new series titled "Earn Your Downhill" it examines the parallel between choosing the path of suffering, sacrifice, and servanthood or the path of comfort, security, and pleasure.