From distorted to true image…
“Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)
The idea of putting on, like clothing that covers our nakedness bringing a protection and a warmth. The word for new is Kainos – it means something that is unfamiliar or not used to, but of a different form, a different nature from what was existing before. A new person after the character of Jesus.
The story of Gideon shows us how God comes and challenges our self-image, Gideon’s view of himself is ‘I am the least in my family’.
Jesus comes along and re-shapes our self-image, and our self-esteem. One of the ways He does that is to get us to look into the Bible where we can be reminded what it means to have an image reflected or imprinted by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Bible is meant to be that to you. Where you can see what and who you really are ‘in Christ’ so that what were previously your reference points for your self-image and self-esteem – human relationships, negative or positive circumstances, your upbringing, learned behaviours – now bow the knee to what Jesus says about you.
- ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15:1-5)
- ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (John 11:25)
- ‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:11-14)
- ‘I am the gate’ (John 10:7)
- ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12, 9:5)
- ‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6: 35-48)
Truth reveals (Ephesians 5:8-14)
The truth of God’s word and the revealing of the Holy Spirit brings to us an awareness of ourselves, that goes deeper than anything else, bringing us true freedom.
The ability to shift from negative emotion to positive emotion is a part of our ‘putting on’ our new self. You might say, well how can you control your emotions? One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. Negative mind-sets and frameworks don’t help us. Richard Wurmbrand when in prison for his faith ‘danced’ for joy in the presence of God. Our emotions don’t need to be tied to our circumstances – they are a part of ‘being renewed’.
The Real You in community
We model growth as people see us struggling with sin and turning in faith to God. Our different experiences of God’s grace become part of the rich counsel that we in the church have for one another. Our church is not a collection of random people. Paul says that Jesus makes His body fit together perfectly, Jesus has specially selected each one to create a perfect fit. You may not have chosen other people but Jesus selected those people in your life to help you to change.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
These behaviours all involve other people and sinful desires. One of the great things about living in community is that people walk all over your idols. God is using the contrasting personalities in your church to change your heart. He places you together so you can rub off each other’s rough edges.
As a community of people of faith, each of us can contribute to each other’s growth. That means that we can help each other lean into the truth about who we are in Christ. Each of us are on a journey of becoming free, a greater freedom to live in the way God has designed us to be.
We meet together to encourage one another, to proclaim the worth of God to one another, to remind each other of the greatness and goodness of God.
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
You can’t do daily one day a week: it has to be in shared lives or family on mission. The real you can emerge in community when we have a community of grace. It means being honest, open and transparent about our struggles. We see one another as ‘sinners saved by grace’ – that means we portray ourselves as a sinner who constantly receives grace from Christ.