Friday, January 9, 2009
When people start to think about becoming a Christian, many have a specific fear that God is going to wipe away their unique personality or identity. After all, we tell people "Jesus will make you a whole new person." Or, "You'll be like Christ." What does that mean? What does it look like? Do we really want to totally lose ourselves and become exactly like Jesus -- and is that what it means to be a Christian? Is there nothing good about us that God wants to keep?
These are good questions. And Paul said things like, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me...the old has gone, the new has come."
This week's passage from John 1:43-51 gives us a peek at the "calling" of two relatively unknown apostles, Philip and Nathanael. We don't know a lot about these guys because they are not often mentioned in the rest of the book of John. Early Church history legends say that, after Jesus' death and resurrection, Nate and Phil traveled abroad to share Jesus' good news and were finally killed for their faith. So, chances are they remained followers. But were they exactly like Jesus? Nope.
How then does God work in you and me? Thats' what we'll delve into this week.
You'll also note a theme popping up in the message this week that we'll start developing through Lent and Easter - the Heart. Having a new Heart is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. No matter how I try to do things right and keep the "rules" of the faith, I can't. I need a change of heart. That's the key for a disciple, I'm convinced. This week I started listening to a daily podcast that's simply some guy with a raspy voice reading the Proverbs. Over and over Proverbs talks about Wisdom, God and having a new Heart. Ezekiel 36:26. More on that later. I hope your new year is off to a meaningful start.