We hate asking for help and we’re told by others they don’t want to get involved. We become convinced that if we DO receive help we are the guilty party for reaching out. So, we feel more like an albatross than a child of God for letting the Lord do His cleansing and renewal work; like somehow that’s not what He signed up for when He went to the Cross or that it bothers Him to get involved in our mess.
Imagine for a moment a coworker or acquaintance shows up at your front door unannounced. You panic. Your house or apartment is a mess and you haven’t showered. Worse yet, you’re not even dressed! There is no possible way you can let them see this! What will everyone at work think? News of this will surely travel quickly around the office or breakroom. You’re left with an impossible choice: scrambling feverishly to pick things up, or, spend the entire time they are there apologizing for the condition of your busy life. (You could also pretend you’re not home. But they know what you drive.) In the same way, we’re afraid to let Jesus see the mess in our lives.
This fear comes from our inclination to view situations from a human perspective, or more correctly from our old perspective. We see ourselves through the eyes of the person we USED to be -- not how God sees us. There’s also a certain level of doubt that surfaces when we begin to let Christ change us. It comes from within and from without. It’s understandable that people won’t understand this thing the Lord is doing in our life. Some of these people knew the “old us.” They saw us at our worst and when we were submerged deepest in our old mire.
When we tell others we gave our lives to Christ and He's changing us oftentimes we're afraid they either won't see it or they won't like the change. They want the old us back. Time to clean out the friends list.
Another detractor is a fear people will hold our past over us. And they do. In fact, even worse is the reality we often do it to ourselves. … we hold our own past over us.
We initiate a habit of scrutinizing our failures and shortcomings, often getting frustrated with ourselves and thus hampering our walk with Christ. The devil likes to capitalize on this and exacerbates the situation by telling us that we can never measure up to God and has the world remind us we don’t need to and that it will accept us just the way we were. And this is especially true if we struggle with things … sin or disobedience -- even doubt, fear, anxiety and worry. Then, as if we don’t do enough damage to ourselves, we let Satan beat us up and lie to us as well.
When we backslide into the world it’s because we don’t realize who we are in Jesus. We don’t realize who HE is either. We fail to understand the completeness of His sacrifice and start attributing our limits to Him. He is God incarnate; we are pitiful, sin-ridden humans who have no chance of measuring up to His glory.
We often think of ourselves as a yard sale find … the Lord purchased us, took us home and started to sand us down, beginning the formidable task of polishing and refinishing us. One of these days, or so our understanding goes, we may be show-room ready.
This is a touching analogy and on the surface it seems spiritual and religious. It works for some people. It helps some people muddle through their walk with Christ. But it’s false. It’s actually a terrible analogy if you consider the truth. Perhaps this is why many people struggle to figure out salvation and find that balance that gives them victory over the old you/new you struggle.
If this concept puzzles you, you’re not alone. Listen to Nicodemus’ struggle with this notion during a late-night conversation with Jesus as told in John 3:1-21 NIV
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
That’s it. There’s the truth: We're not refurbished. We're not renovated. We're not simply polished up or reworked versions of our former selves. We are brand new! Not even the same. Totally. Different.
As the Word says in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NIV: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Wouldn’t it be great if all those earthly constant reminders from our past would be erased: our credit score, our rap sheet, our criminal record gone in a flash and no one remembers. Imagine how good that would feel.
If you can, you know what it feels like to have truly given your life to Christ.