“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace” 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT).
From the time I have been little I’ve loved books. I was always a reader and one of the places I visited frequently from the time I was very young was the library.
One of my favorite memories as a child was walking up and down the aisles of books in the children’s section, picking several of them up, touching the cover, taking in the colorful artwork and illustrations – and I loved the idea that I got to take home as many books as I could carry.
Reading led to my love for writing – something I used to do quite frequently in my youth. Then, sometime after high school began I stopped writing. My life became immersed in my friendships and relationships with boys. Things at home weren’t going well and I was acting out and making bad choices. That eventually led to a teenage pregnancy and then life got real busy…
This past week, I finished reading the last chapter in the Book of Romans (Chapter 16), and continued on in First Corinthians Chapters 1 through 4. In these chapters, we see the Apostle Paul’s commitment and passion to reach the new believers and teach them of the importance on becoming a united body in Christ. His letter to the Corinthians dealt with facing the struggles they were having in the Church; and also, the complacency in their own faith as new believers.
In Chapter 3 of First Corinthians, Paul describes the new believers as “infants in Christ.” The point he is trying to make by saying this is that even though they had the knowledge of God’s Word and instruction, they were living like “people of the world” rather than a people of God. Paul challenges you and me here to live our lives beyond being controlled by our “worldly” desires. Just as infants need to go beyond milk and grow toward taking in “solid food,” so do we, as believers, need to be mature in our faith and in our knowledge of God’s Word.
These chapters in Corinthians, are a reminder to believers that we need to stop being complacent and start growing in our relationship with the Lord. As Paul teaches, we do this by surrendering to the Holy Spirit all of our sin. When we do this, we allow God to be first in our lives and we do not allow the things of this world to dictate how we live.
For me, I am deeply challenged to forge relationships in my life that hold God at the center of it – rather than putting myself in situations that draw me farther away from God. This is hard when you still have relationships with people who do not know God. I have found myself being put into situations with people I care deeply about that make me uncomfortable and that I know do not honor how God intends for me to live.
In these situations, I need to set boundaries. I don’t have to participate in activities or situations that, I feel, would not honor God. While this is good for me and my relationship with God, it is also hard and may mean that I may have to distance myself from those that I care about. It also means that I may have to step out of my “comfort zone” to experience the benefits of living out God’s way in my life.
Since I have been baptized a child of God (just over a year now), both me and my family have experienced many positive changes and life transformations. But, in order to experience those, we’ve had to “sacrifice” and give up old habits that were not best suiting us.
The biggest change, for me, though has been my devoted time spent in the Word. My commitment to getting back to writing and writing about God’s Word has been such an important step in my growth as a Christian. I have had wonderful people in my life both in and outside of Church who are so encouraging and motivating me to want to keep using my God-given gift. Most importantly, I have grown closer to God.
There is so much good in just letting go of the things or people in your life that are weighing you down. It may not feel good in the beginning, but I can honestly say in the end it is worth the struggle, and it reminds you who you really are – a child of God.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminder of how important it is to put You in the forefront of our lives. Let your Holy Spirit fill us with the courage and strength to make healthy changes in our lives that will allow us to grow in You and not push You farther away. It is a daily decision to turn to You. Help us commit to that decision and surrender to Your Spirit. As it says in Your Word, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT). Let us live by Your Word and always remember the benefit it has in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.