HEART LIVING TOOLS
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
- 2 Corinthians 5:14 – 17 NIV
Accept Challenges as Opportunities for Growth
There is an attractive lie that unnecessarily creates confusion and discouragement. Its forms include - "I've been through BT so I will not continue to struggle with life challenges." "If I have enough faith (i.e. feelings) then I will not be tempted and Godly choices will be easy." "Now that I am a new creation in Christ and the old is gone I won't struggle with the past." Recognize the lie? It really does sound attractive.
The truth includes that by placing our trust in the Good News of grace we are "in Christ" and we have a new basis for living. We have new eyes to see both what is happening around us now and a new way of seeing old things from our past. External circumstances have not necessarily changed, yet our old, familiar way of seeing is gone. We see from a new point of view that allows us to make different choices in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Now, the challenge is growth and beginning to live out this new reality.
Spiritual and personal growth is not like biological growth. Plants grow almost automatically when they have the right soil, moisture and sun. Human growth requires 1- Clear Intentions, 2- Circumstances that Challenge, and 3- Choices that Change.
Clear Intention – Life is designed to be lived on purpose. We are different from animals whose choices are based on instinct. A cow does not ask, "Who am I?" since cowness is hard-wired into its brain. The Genesis creation story tells us that choice was uniquely given to humankind. Adam and Eve had a choice to either live within God's grace or to live independent of Him. They chose poorly and Christ, the second Adam, has chosen well. Now we have the opportunity to choose what we what to create. Who are you? What do you really want?
Circumstances that Challenge – We all have challenges to living the life we want. Some are consequences due to old choices made poorly. Some are because other people made poor choices that continue to affect us. Some are because "in Christ" we are engaged in spiritual warfare. All are opportunities to turn intentions into faith and growth. We fall for another lie when we believe that "If my intentions are strong, pure, holy, etc., then unhappy circumstances will automatically change." Wrong! God's goal is not to make us painlessly happy but to form us into the image of Christ.
Choices that Change – Being formed in the image of Christ involves making different choices. Faith is more than believing something is true; it is the knowing by the experience of actually acting on its truthfulness. Our pattern of choosing the old way is familiar and the new way can seem very hard; yet, its purpose is life transforming. All of the intentions in the world will not have the long-lasting effect of creating Christ-likeness unless we put it into practice.
Small Group Sharing
- How has the lie that "life should be easier than it is" affected your joy and peace?
- Does this application of the Scripture cited above encourage or discourage you?
- Share a situation where you see that you used this growth model successfully.
- How does it strike you that some difficult circumstances come as part of spiritual warfare?
- How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?