Saturday, July 9, 2011

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Born Again 11: The Jesus Who Lives in Me

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My sense of excitement over Sharon's growing enthusiasm and revelations was matched by a sense of loss.  Everything was here sitting in a pile.  Conviction of sin, comprehension of Christ, yearning for salvation ... I couldn't escape the sense that a gifted evangelist would have brought this all together for her 2 weeks ago--or even 2 decades ago!  But in His wisdom God had not sent a gifted evangelist, and it would be foolish to stand around waiting for one to show up.

I was the one He had sent, and all I could do was tell her what He had laid on my heart.
Nothing at all about your e-mail strikes me as "silly" or "odd".  In fact, what really strikes me about your e-mail is how very wonderful it is. Truly. I'm actually a little awestruck by the whole thing. To think that God had this plan in mind ... it's just amazing to me!

What you have just described is everything that the gospel is supposed to accomplish!  Why doesn't everyone respond to it as you have? Or, as you asked: "What is wrong with me?" Well, I suppose the Apostle Paul described it best: "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
So what did Sharon need to see at this moment?  She needed to see what God was doing in her so that she could respond to it ...
The fact is that our basic problem is that, in our natural (sinful) state, we are spiritually dead! We don't hear what God is saying because we frankly don't want to. We are seeking for peace, but not really for God Himself, because our hearts are in rebellion against Him. Instead, we would rather invent a god in our own image, one whom we would rather deal with than the one true, holy God!

But when that true God intervenes and awakens us to His reality, it all becomes so clear! We look back and wonder what on earth we were thinking before ("What is wrong with me?"), but it's really quite simple in a way ... we were thinking what it was in our nature to think! Again, to quote Paul:  "
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-8)"
... and then she needed to know what that response is supposed to look like.
This is why Jesus spoke of being "born again". It is the life-giving touch of the Savior that gives us the ability to finally comprehend the meaning of this "gospel" (good news) we all speak about! "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." (Romans 8:14-17)

When you knew me before, most of this information was still fairly new to me. I can't tell you exactly when or where I was born again. I believe it was between the ages of 16 and 18, but there were no fireworks ... just a slow realization that this gospel was more than just a "story", as you so aptly described. I will be honest with you, I still occasionally struggle with those thoughts even today. My faith is still a work in progress even this 25+ years later: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see ... And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:1,6)
I was determined not to give her a canned "sinners prayer".  It would have only injected an artificiality into what had been so very authentic.  I simply wanted her to see and know Jesus.  The Jesus of the Bible.  The Jesus who stood at the door and knocked.  The Jesus who lives in me.
Sometimes doubts still crowd my mind. What drives those doubts away? God Himself, of course, for now that His Spirit lives inside me, He is committed to me: "... being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) He does this through the various means He has given me to experience the riches of His grace, as I continually read His Word, fellowship with His people, carry out the works He gave me to do, and worship Him both publicly and privately.

Thank you, Sharon, for giving me the privilege of walking with you along this journey. You are also an encouragement to me!
Next:  Born Again 12:  My Husband Thinks I'm Weird 

2 comments:

  1. The suspense is killing me . . .

    Seriously though, this is one of my favorite series on the blogosphere. I tune in for every new post. I love a good salvation story: hearing how God reaches into someone's life and draws them to Himself never ceases to bring me unsearchable joy and leaving me praising Jesus.

    Thanks for sharing, Jailer, and thank Sharon for sharing too.

    Manifest Blog

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