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  • Writer's pictureJames

God Transforms

Chapter 8 Assigned Sunday, April 10th.

In “The Good And Beautiful God,” the authors friend visited him because he felt conflicted in his walk with God. He taught a Sunday school class, he had his work and family, and he was struggling with sin. The author took a look at his friend and asked him who he was, and the friend said he was a Christian, but he also identified himself as a sinner, and since the sin was normal behavior, the two of them had some work to do. The author suggests his friends story is not uncommon, even though we each struggle with something different. We have a conflict with sin that we are constantly trying to get out of, and it is often the small things such as lies, greed, excessive worrying, and judgement of others that get us. We are not living the lives we ought to live.

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Because sin is so prevalent in our lives, it makes it easy for us to see our identity as sinners, however most of us are looking to produce only good things. “He told me he was a sinner, yet he was deeply troubled by his sin. That would be like an apple tree being deeply troubled by the apples that keep growing on its branches. The teaching that we are fundamentally sinners leads to failure. I believe that most Christians have little understanding of their identity in Christ, which results in a great deal of frustration and superficial Christian living.” God not only wants us to be reconciled (made whole) to his kingdom, he wants to transform us, in order to replace the narrative of “I am an awful sinner” with the idea that we are no longer defined by the sin around us. We are not trying to live a sinless life like Jesus, because Jesus, who lived a sinless life, is now living in us. We have the Holy Spirit at work in us.

2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that everyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person, the old life is gone, and new life has begun.” Such as with a butterfly, which starts out

as a caterpillar that can only crawl, but it goes into a chrysalis, and emerges as a butterfly, completely transformed. Christians were once under the reign of sin, but now live in freedom from such things, and as such God is no longer dealing with us on the basis of our sin. We become a new creation. But even though we have been spiritually transformed, we still posses the same body, the same old habits, and we still live in a sinful world. And so many of our problems come because we feel that something is missing in our lives.and our spirit searches for one thing and our flesh yearns for everything else, and both of those forces are opposed to each other.

The soul training exercise says the central aim for the chapter is to help us understand who we really are, but since our image is based mostly on the wrong narratives, like not being good enough or not being pretty enough, it wants us to experience solitude by spending time somewhere quiet away from other people, as an intentional time alone with ourselves and God. In solitude you can take off your mask and be yourself. Introverts and extroverts will both handle it differently, because “Personality type and individual temperament play a significant role in solitude, perhaps more than for any other spiritual exercise.”

Over the summer, I worked at a boarding school down in Kentucky called Oakdale Christian Academy. We went down there to help out with the remodeling of the boys dorms, and the administration did not know what to expect of our team because they dealt with a lot of past volunteers who didn’t know what they were doing – but they soon realized our team was small but mighty. Part of our job was to minister to the students, who came to the school from all backgrounds, and that was probably my 

favorite part of the trip. The students are put in charge of every chore that needs to be done around the campus, from cleaning up their dorm rooms and doing laundry to kitchen cleanup and yard work, and they do every activity together as a family, and they get a good education and graduate with community service. The goal is for each of these students to form their identity in Christ, and to become empowered to do great things the rest of their lives.

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The things I went through growing up are part of the reason I am the person I am today, both in good ways and bad ways. I’m a young adult now, and over the years God has transformed me and at this point in my life the struggles no longer phase me in the same way. I’m still prone to my immaturity, but such things will get better as I grow older. I collected a bunch of Christian pickup lines from a game with my college group, which a girl confiscated from me 😦 , but I still have the one “I know you are looking for a knight in shining armor… good thing I’m wearing the full armor of God.” And that’s how I get through the good days and the bad days. I went out and did all these things I was afraid to do, and regardless of the outcome I am better for it.

That is something I want for you too, I want you to find your identity in Christ, I want you to show kindness towards someone who you think really needs your help, and I want you to take a chance on something you might be afraid for. I want you to remember you will still sin and live in a sinful world, but the sin is not who you are, or your accomplishments.

-James –

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