Writing about the accelerants of Christ in you, the Spirit inside, the new self with its new nature, and the Word implanted takes me back to my roots in starting this blog seven years ago. My starting point and recurring topic has always been who we are in Christ as new creations and how that fuels living the Christian life. You could say it is an obsession of mine.
So the other night over dinner, Rhonda asked me to explain and clarify for her (and as it turned out, for myself) this passion for the new identity. “So what is the end goal, Jay, in this enthusiastic focus of yours on the end of sin’s power in us and our predominant righteous nature? What do you hope to accomplish with your persistent writing on this topic? Do you want to win a theological argument with [our pastor]? Do you want folks to leap up and agree with you and think you are a smart fellow? Are you feeding an approval idol that needs buy in and accolades from friends both near and far?” It was a great question.
(Just to be clear, given her line of questions, Rhonda has celebrated and embraced the beauty of the “new life” as we have looked into the Word together. She also edits and improves every post, including this one.)
I didn’t answer right away. These were probing questions that caused me to evaluate -as I seriously needed to do -my underlying motivation for my writing and teaching. I paused over my Pei Wei Honey Seared Chicken with White Rice and thought to myself. Then the answer came to me.
“Rhonda, if I have communicated anything competitive or combative in my approach to these topics, that has been a miscommunication on my part. My goal in all of my writing is actually quite simple when I boil it down.”
“My goal is to encourage a community of Christ followers to lock arms with the Holy Spirit within and make a thousand righteous choices every day. I want to see fathers come home from work and pitch in, even if they are tired, rather than emotionally checking out. I want to see parents engaging their children in life-affirming ways rather than through criticism and shame. I want to see husbands making choices to serve their wives with love that emulates how Christ loves the church. I want to see moms dialing down the anger and dialing up the peace. I want to see kids honor their parents, be loyal friends, tell the truth, and look out for the best interests of their siblings. I want to see believers walking in the Spirit in the big issues of life and in the tiniest pieces of their day. I want us – all of us – to experience the power and the joy that the Lord has promised.”
All of these goals are what the rest of the book of Ephesians addresses. Our last stop in Ephesians about putting on the new self (Eph 4:24) took us on an appropriate detour through renewing our mind and a lifestyle of repentance. But now, returning to Ephesians chapters 4 through 6, we will see Paul’s descriptions and encouragements regarding what a community of Christ followers – making a thousand righteous choices – looks like. If you want to see what that looks like, or better yet experience and live it for yourself, join us on the journey ahead.