It seems a common plight that many ask Jesus to save them but don’t surrender their lives totally to his authority. It’s like asking to be under the protection of the army but not wanting to submit to its requirements. Or signing up to join your country’s army but actually fighting for the enemy. We want to be saved from hell and yet keep living as we did before. Asking Jesus into our lives means asking him to be our Savior AND our Lord. We tend to resist his lordship because we think we can handle our own life pretty well.
The Navigator’s Topical Memory System, starts with a category called “Christ the Center.” If we want Jesus to protect and provide for us, he can’t merely reside on the fringes of our life. To experience the fullness of his power, we need him to be in the center of our life, over all our activities, ambitions and desires. The first verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, is central to the Christian life:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.”
It’s a basic verse for new believers that continues to challenge mature believers. “A new creation” bears the image of the total transformation we see in a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. If you look at a caterpillar next to a butterfly, you’d have to admit they look and act completely differently. So should our lives as Christians look and act different from our life before Christ.
Or think of it in the context of marriage. Before marriage, there was “you” and “me,” two separate beings. But once you’ve committed to a lifetime marriage there is a new creation called “us.” And at the top of our priority list is preserving and nurturing “us” according to God’s plan. “We” is different than “you and me.”
Let’s look at the second verse, Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Can you imagine yourself on the cross next to Jesus, enduring the same pain as you were crucified with him? And yet this seems to required of the “new creation.” It’s not just matter of becoming a better Christian by our own effort. It’s dying to self in order for Christ to live in us. Returning to the illustration of the caterpillar, the creature that crawls into the cocoon is totally transformed as one part becomes an antennae, another wings, All the parts of the old creation are crucified or utterly put to death in order for the new creation to take life and fly to new heights.
I thought of this illustration as I suffered through a harsh chemotherapy treatment that “crucified” my old immune system, the core element of my life, in order to receive a stem cell transplant that would change my DNA from B+ blood to O+ and allow me the chance for new life. The old was gone the new had come. My donor’s blood, the essence of his being, had come to reside in my body for as long as I live. And so Jesus comes to live in our body for as long as we live, in the form of his Holy Spirit.
He lives in the body and heart of every Christian. It’s his authority and over us that transforms us into a new creation. Try as we like we simply cannot achieve it in our own wisdom and power. The question is whether we submit to his authority or not. Living without the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit is very much like a child trying to join a fierce battle without the guiding influence of the commanding officer.
Are you a new creation depending daily on the power of the Spirit in all aspects of your life? Or are you desperately throwing punches at the air, trying to go it alone? Simply ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and help you to listen to his voice. Find the peace and victory of being a new creation in Christ.