I love springtime in the UK, when the temperature begins to rise and the days begin to get longer. It’s my favourite time of year. Everything begins to feel and look different. The garden begins to burst forth with the vibrancy of spring flowers and the tender green leaves appear on the trees. It even begins to sound different with the dawn chorus of the birds and their loud chirruping throughout the day, as they swoop backwards and forwards, busily collecting twigs and moss to build their nests.
As I was looking out of the window at all these unmistakable signs of new life and the promise of summer to come, I remembered a notice board I saw outside a church over the New Year period. It simply said: ‘New Year, Jesus offers new life’. It was an evangelistic message of hope to the many people for whom a new year isn’t enough. Their need is for a new life: the miracle of rebirth that’s possible through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to life again.
As I pondered how radically different spring looks, feels and sounds to the winter that precedes it, I also thought about the challenge that lies in that message on the notice board for us, as born again Christians. We’ve been reborn into the Kingdom of God, and we’ve received the gift of new life. Does your life, or mine, look as different from the old as spring does to winter?
When we look at a daffodil or a tulip, we see its colourful bloom. It doesn’t look anything like the bulb it came from, which was hidden underground all through the winter cold and frosts. When we see a beautiful tree, covered in a cloud of delicate pink blossom or quivering new leaves, we know it’s been utterly transformed from its stark black-brown skeleton of winter. What do people see when they look at you or me?
Of course we can have unresolved issues in our lives even when we’ve received Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us, and His gift of new life. Everything isn’t instantly perfect. There’s an ongoing walk of being open to His Holy Spirit convicting us of sin, then confession and receiving His forgiveness and cleansing, and bringing our wounds to Him for healing. But as vital as dealing with these areas is, they’re not things that need to utterly consume us. For even as we walk this walk, if our focus is upwards to Him and not downwards and inward looking to ourselves, and if we’re yielding day by day to the enabling power of His Holy Spirit, our lives will be the ‘living letter’ that Paul talks about (2 Corinthians 3:1-3). Our lives will be a witness to those who’ve come to the end of themselves and the old life. We’ll show that a new life is possible, through the saving love and grace of Jesus. A notice board outside a church is one thing, but how much more powerful it is when the Spirit of God touches another, as the new life we have in Jesus radiates from us?
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the price You paid on the cross for me, and thank You for Your resurrection life. Thank You that I’ve been reborn into Your kingdom. The winter is past and the rains are over and gone, the flowers are springing up, and the season of singing birds has come. Even as I face difficult issues in my life, with You, may they not eclipse the love, grace and mercy You`ve poured out for me. May my thankfulness radiate out so that others will be pointed to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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