Making a Difference
By: Thomas E. Brewton
If Christianity hasn’t made a positive difference in your life, you haven’t fully embraced it.
The question posed by Sunday’s sermon at Black Rock-Long Ridge Congregational Church (North Stamford, Connecticut) was “How Can I Be a New Creation?”
Rev. Josh Feay’s main text was:
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 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 5:11-17)
The Apostle Paul’s phrase “so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart” applies to the recent spate of atheistic attacks on spiritual religion. Those who take pride in what is seen, i.e., the physical world alone, are the atheists who, not content with the freedom to believe as they wish to believe, aim to destroy religious faith by banishing it from society.
Taking pride in what is seen, however, is worshipping a false god, the god of philosophical materialism. Atheists of the modern era, beginning with the 18th century French Enlightenment, have labored to explain history as entirely the product of material forces: wealth and political power. In their view, if you can’t detect it with the physical senses, it doesn’t exist.
It’s doubtful that Christians will ever argue atheists out of their positions, because atheism is itself a religious doctrine: the belief in the supreme power of the minds of liberal-Progressive-socialists to restructure human society and thereby to perfect human nature.
To confront non-believers effectively we need a transformation in our lives, we need to become new creations who stand as living testimony to the beneficent power of God through Jesus Christ. It isn’t sufficient to be slightly modified old creations. Our every action must be taken in light of Jesus’s admonitions to love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Rather than bemoaning our problems, we should start every day thanking God for His beautiful Creation and for our manifold blessings. We should think, not self-centeredly, but about the problems of others and of how we can help them.
Transforming our lives, every day, into new creations requires focus upon our spiritual life. We must continually strive for closeness to God and seek his inspirational guidance for our attitudes and actions.
It requires, additionally, focus upon our intellectual lives. We need to study the Bible regularly and to learn as much as possible about the fundamentals of our faith in order to discuss it effectively with non-believers.
Finally, it requires focus upon our ethical standards.
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:26-27)
In Colossians 3:5-14, the Apostle Paul sums up the elements of becoming a new creation in Christ:
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.