Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Refurbished Christian

Blogger: Joe Harrison

There are, of course, many things in life that can be refurbished, but I'm sure most of us in the younger generation are more familiar with the term when it refers to video game systems. Refurbishing refers to the cleaning up of something that has already been furbished (or brand new). Take a video game system, for instance; you buy a brand new Nintendo Wii and play it for hours, days, weeks, months, and while there are some systems that remain strong, 1 in 4 will usually crack under the stress of remaining in constant heat. So, rather than just throwing the console away, it gets taken to the manufacturer to be refurbished; cleaned up, tweaked, given new parts that work better, etc.

I think for a lot of Christians this line of events is true for us. We get going in our faith in Christ and we are running strong. But as time goes on, the heat of fighting against sin becomes too strong--this is usually because, when things are going great we tend to start getting too self-confident--and we start buckling, and not working the way we're supposed to.

Throughout the Bible we see such occurrences; that when you're on the right trail and everything's going great, the longer you are on that trail it can sometimes lead to you straying from God. Among our examples, King David, who became so wrapped up in his kingly authority and his place of royalty, which God had given to him, that he distanced himself from God and committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband Uriah killed (2 Sam. 11:1-12).

You know this is why it isn't healthy for us to have comfortable lives in which nothing bad happens and why we need spiritual exercise with trials. James tells us:

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4 (NASB)

If our faith isn't tested, then it can go stagnant, bringing our temperature down to lukewarm (which God abhors, Rev. 3:15-16), or worse, it can turn us away from God completely.

So now that you know we need trials and tests, we return to the original point of this post. Often times we will hit a period in our faith in Christ where we feel invincible. Everything's going great, you're feeling strong! This is when you are especially vulnerable to self-confidence. And that's when it happens. Paul warns us:

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NASB)

As we become more self-confident we start trying to fight sin with our own strength. And it is very evident that Sin is stronger than us. You can hinder sin with your own strength, but doing so only makes it stronger, so that when it hits the next time it will be harder to fight.

We buckle under the heat, and break down. Sin is victorious. And there we sit, alone and broken, most likely wallowing in our guilt, just as Jonah felt when he was swallowed up by the great fish. But what did Jonah do next? He spent three days in the belly of the fish evaluating, examining, testing himself and getting right with God (Jonah 2:1-9). Paul tells us to do this very thing:

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless you indeed fail the test?" 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB)

When we break down, we can't waste our time wallowing in our guilt and feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to immediately turn to God and examine ourselves to see where things went wrong and why they went wrong. The chances are pretty high that you will come to see that you fell because you were relying on your own strength as opposed to God's strength.

So now a crossroads stands before you. Go on sulking, or get up and get "refurbished" in Christ. Let Jesus Christ renew you and re-strengthen you. Because this is exactly what God wants to do! He wants to renew you. And as you set out, refurbished, continuously examine yourself to see if you are "in the faith". Make it a weekly habit. Maybe even a daily habit. Turn to God and ask Him "Lord, reveal to me anything that is in my life that is hindering my relationship with you." Keep in contact with God, even when your life seems to be going great. Don't let your self-confidence take over! Abide in God's word, the Bible. Take a daily walk and talk with Him. And each week (or each day) examine the last few days and make sure that your contact with God hasn't been diminishing. And if it has been, you know the danger, and you have God help you get it fixed before it's too late.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

I hope you will remember all of this as we begin the new week. And as you set out prepared to deal with your self-confidence, may the Grace of Christ be with you.

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