One of the perceptions of Christianity which floats around out there is the “religion for old people and a crutch for the feeble minded”. I don’t come across it as much as I used to, unfortunately it’s more likely to be because people dismiss Christianity completely rather than peoples’ perception having been changed.
In reality, the only place in the body of Christ where it is possible to behave as if Christianity is a crutch is if we cross the line into salvation but from then on refuse to take anything of who Jesus is and was seriously.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)
Truth is, when we cross the line into salvation, Jesus and Holy Spirit immediately begin the work of transforming us into the likeness of Christ.
This takes work, and if we choose to engage with the process, there is often hard work to do in order to come out the other side.
None of us can say there isn’t something we need to work on, or something we know God wants to be able to heal so we no longer need to carry the severity of consequence from the original wound. This process continues all our lives, and it is part of us participating in the process of redemption. It has consequences, not only for us, but also far-reaching, eternal consequences, some of which we may experience in our lifetimes, some of which we may not see the impact of until after Jesus comes again.
In those moments, when we are faced with the invitation from Holy Spirit to step into the process of transformation, we have a choice. We always have a choice. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice, especially when you know the process is painful, but getting to the end is worth the pain of the process…but we still have a choice.
Adulting can be difficult.
It means when He says, “Alright; time to deal with this thing which has been hanging around for x many years.” We need to be prepared to engage our adult, put on our big girl-or-boy-pants, muck in with Him and deal with it.
We need to be ready to engage with the emotions, engage with the process of forgiveness- forgiving ourselves, others, and God- engage with therapy, engage with prayer ministry, engage with learning new skills, habits, lifestyles, we need to be prepared to put the time in to finish the process without turning away from it.
We need to be prepared for God to see things differently than we do, and to deal with the fact that He needs to change our perspective.
We will not be able to hold onto the past we are familiar with, to patterns of behaviour we have habituated, or to wounds which have shaped us.
There may be people we need to release, literally, emotionally or spiritually.
This may come as a surprise: some of those things we hate are so familiar to us, the thought of letting them go can stop us from entering the process of healing. Often, a lot of the pain in the process is caused by our holding on to things we need to release, or anticipating pain and therefore making it bigger than it really is. We also are very good at confusing the cathartic release of tears or emotion with ‘breakdown’ or ‘insanity/madness’ and being afraid of it. Humans are weird aren’t we, especially me.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Heading into the process of growth is not for the faint-of-heart. The reason I say this, is because we must choose to engage with it, when our instinct is to turn from it.
My personal choice has been to determine to always say yes, and trust Jesus knows best, no matter what the process is- I’ve found it saves time trying to decide whether I really want to go through this next adjustment, or deal with this next piece of transformation, character building, sandpapering, healing, whatever you want to call it!!!