Several years ago, I was learning some new techniques on the piano. I’m by no means an accomplished pianist, but my friend, Donna, taught me how to play chords with my left hand while I played the single note melodies with my right. Then I learned to play octaves with the left and chords with the right. I rehearsed and, at home, I thought I sounded pretty good!
Around the holidays, my piano-teacher friend had the opportunity to “show off” her students at the mall. Pianists played music throughout the day to create a festive shopping experience for patrons. Although I was reluctant, I agreed to let her showcase the “amazing” advancement I had made in the music world.
I dressed in a beautiful gown and nervously waited for the “opening act” to complete their time slot, so that I (the main event) could take the stage. I had practiced for this and was confident. My piano playing sounded rich and full at home.
I finally sat down with the “level 1” elementary music book in front of me and started playing the chords along with the melody. It sounded okay, but then my fingers forgot where to go. I tried to play the way Donna had taught me. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t do it under the pressure of the curious on-lookers. They actually paused to listen to me! Halfway into the first song, I resorted to the old way of playing: following the simple notes on the music sheet like I had learned in second grade. And my music wasn’t full and pleasing to the ear the way my friend had taught me to play.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” but regardless of our resolve to live in this “new” way, we are still human, we still face temptation and, in our weakness, our “old nature” can easily resurface and be exposed.
Even before we are saved, we have in our mind how Christians are supposed to behave. They don’t swear, smoke, drink, or act boisterous. They respond with the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). So, our first task, we think, is to start “acting like a Christian”.
Our tendency is to follow “the rules” as we understand them.
But then we are tested. And right there, (in front of the crowd, or our family, or even when we are all alone), financial pressures mount, we hit our thumb with the hammer, or someone “gets our goat,” and suddenly, something that we haven’t struggled with for a long time pops back up. We fall back into the old “familiar” response, our B.C. response, and we gasp as we realize that was still in there!
This growing can happen under the false pretense that we must behave like a Christian, and often that’s how it starts because that’s all we know, but Jesus just wants us to know Him! He wants us to draw close, to learn His character, and, as we fellowship and worship Him, we to take on His character. The natural response to His love is obedience – not out of obligation, but out of love for Him and a desire to please Him.
The longer we are Christians, the more we take on the nature of Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit become evident in our life. As we grow in our love of God and surrender more to him, the “new creature” that He created starts to mature.
God is ever faithful to expose to us our weakness, for in our weakness, He is our strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). As our weakness is exposed, we can repent, grow, and overcome.
When we stumble as a new Christian, we pick ourselves up, dust off, and try again. It’s the process of growing up. A baby takes that first step, and oops! . . . then picks up and tries again. But we grow! When you’ve been in the Lord for a while and fall, it hurts a little more – it’s a little more embarrassing and a little harder to pick up and start up again.
When my son started walking. He kept his arms extended, just so he could catch himself when he fell. He finally became more confident and now, at 40, he walks with confidence, arms to his side. That doesn’t mean he can’t stumble, but he isn’t expecting to and he is confident of his ability to keep his 6+ foot body balanced over his size 13 shoe.
Jesus lived on this earth and walked as a man. Setting aside His deity, He became human. He felt pain, rejection, the sting of betrayal, and took every disease and sin to the cross so that we can live in freedom.
The accuser, Satan, would lie to you and keep you in bondage to your old habits. He would convince you that you are not worthy and remind you of your sin. But God! He made a way! Sin no longer defines who we are. We are no longer adulterers, cheaters, liars, thieves, drunks, etc. We are loved by Jesus, we are children of God, and we are worthy because He lives in us.
He created us for fellowship with Him and He gave Himself to us and loved us first. As we respond in love, we move into a new way of obedience and life rather than disobedience and death.
Your flesh is exposed when tough situations come. He exposes this so that we can walk in freedom. He just asks us to surrender and take it to the cross.
Our sin is detestable to God. Jesus died a grievous, painful death on the cross because of our sin. Are we living in the freedom that He died for?
Dear Lord, I ask that You continue to work in my life, making me a fit vessel – a vessel of honor to be used for Your purpose. Thank You that You made a way when there was no way. Thank You for Your mercies that are new every morning. Teach me to rest in You. Teach me to set aside distractions that would keep me from spending time with You. Help me release every burden, every fear, every concern to You. Teach me to abide in You.