Encounter: Imagine yourself as a new follower of Christ in the church of Corinth. The Apostle Paul is your church planting pastor and is trying to help you understand that you are no longer under a law that you can never live up to but have now crossed over into a whole new way of life with God through receiving the love of Christ. Love, mercy and grace meet you. But other teachers came along and began trying to convince you to go back to the law. Confusion is causing people to leave the faith and become confused about their new life of freedom in Christ and how God would transform them from being a rule keeper to living life filled and led by the Holy Spirit. Find a quiet place to read and reflect on Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, Romans 7:14-25 and Ephesians 4:22-24. Underline any words or phrases that seem to speak to you.
Last week my Mother, Sister and I traveled to Toledo for our annual buying trip at the hardware show. After two and a half days of work we took a day of rest in the town of Maumee, Ohio. We stayed in a bed and breakfast that was close to the Maumee River and we would cross a bridge to go over to Perrysburg to shop and have dinner. The best part for me is always finding a path or hiking trail to go walking and this location did not disappoint. The town had created a path along the river with large spans of greenways where I had the pleasant surprise of seeing a doe watching over her two fawns as they played. Church steeples could be seen rising above the trees in the nearby towns and their bells rang out on Sunday morning hopefully reminding people that faith in God is still alive.
As I turned and walked in the opposite direction, I could see giant concrete platforms that used to be the foundations for the old bridge that connected the two towns. They stood as citadels of something that was useful in the past but had faded and become obsolete when the new bridge was built.
It made me think about Paul's work with the early church as He tried to help them understand the inward journey Christ was inviting them to under the New Covenant. Just as the old bridge would no longer help people cross the river, the old covenant, though useful for a certain time would no longer serve as the bridge connecting people to God. Jesus was their bridge. Now they could live free to pursue the Jesus Way of life and experience something of the glory that until then only Moses had received. Just as no one would try and cross over the Maumee River on the old platforms, Christ calls us to Himself. He is the way, the truth and the life we live. And so now, we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Tomorrow, we're going to spend some time looking into what Scripture tells us about how this transformation takes place throughout our lives. What is God's part and what is our part? How do we become the person God wants me to be? We will see that we are not talking about a self-help program, as Trevor Hudson writes in Holy Spirit, Here and Now, "The roots of genuine spiritual transformation lie in those parts of the human heart and mind that only the Holy Spirit can touch...when Christ enters our lives he does not want to improve us; he wants to change us." This is an inward journey of transformation and we are on this journey together. Let's keep encouraging one another as we see God's glory shine through us!
On the Journey with you,
Reflect: In what area of your life would you like to experience inner change? How do you respond to the invitation to become more like Christ? What about the way of Christ attracts you the most? How do you respond to the idea that it is the Holy Spirit that does this transformative work?
Spiritual Practice: What defines the "old bridges" in your life that no longer work. What is the "new bridges" that are bringing you life? Write these down in your journal and ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you how these new bridges are working for your good and God's glory.
Gather: Share something you reflected on through these scriptures and devotion.