Renew

  • Read Revelation 21:1-5 here.
  • You can listen to this sermon here.

I believe Christians are, and should be, dissatisfied people.

We should look at our society and be dissatisfied.  We should look at the rate of abortion in this country and be dissatisfied.  We should look at the number of children born outside of marriage and those who grow up without the presence of fathers and be dissatisfied.  We should look at the proportion of black men in gaols around this nation and be dissatisfied.  We should question why the US has the highest poverty rate in the western world and be dissatisfied.  When we see injustice around us, we should be dissatisfied. When almost 50% of marriages end in divorce and it makes no difference whether the couples are Christian or not, we should be dissatisfied.

Ultimately, God will renew creation. There will be a new city, a new government, a new society.  Until then, the majority of usages of the word “renew” in the NT refer to Christians as individuals.  Our greatest dissatisfaction should be with ourselves.  We should always be dissatisfied with who we are, as we seek to take on the image of Christ.  That’s not to say we should always feel guilty or uncertain of our eternal destiny.  We simply recognise that God’s work in us isn’t complete at the moment of baptism, rather, He’s just got started.

Paul expressed it this way in 2 Cor 4:16-18,

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I have found from personal experience and conversations with others that one of the most difficult questions for Christians to answer is, “What part of your life are you currently working on to become more Christlike?”  Another way of asking this might be, “Which part of your life is most in need of God’s renewal?” I don’t mean that in a sense of, “which spiritual discipline do you need to increase?”, but more like “Which fruit of the Spirit is the most sparse in your life right now?”  I long for the day when someone replies, “I’m really working on perseverance (ore something) at the moment.”

While most Christians would deny we’re perfect, it’s my impression that many “mature” Christians have trouble acknowledging their ongoing need for renewal.  It’s as though we obviously had to make changes in the first couple of years after conversion, but now, we’re doing pretty good.  No bushfires here.  That’s a long way removed from saying that “we are being renewed day by day.

To return to where I started.  I’m convinced that the only way to address the societal issues that dissatisfy us, is to renew individuals in our society.  As individuals are renewed, society is renewed.  I believe this is the approach Jesus took in his ministry.

  • Without expecting you to share your struggles with the one other reader of this blog,“Just as a “yes / no” answer, Do you have a personal trait that you’re working on letting God renew right now?”
  • Why do you think many Christians are so quick to jump into political debates and simultaneously so reticent to discuss their faith with those around them?
  • As you look back on your life, can you see obvious areas where God’s Spirit has renewed you? Do you encourage others by describing your transformation to date?
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