As I lay on the floor with my mind churning over obsessively, I felt God’s substantial loving presence replace the old heavy burdens. God’s Presence consumed the negative feeling of not being perfect before God. The yoke and burden had been exchanged, Jesus’ words were alive in me, “My burden is light and my yoke is easy.” (Matthew 11:30)
For part 1 of the story, click here.
I was at a crossroads.
Would I be tied to a compulsive effort to be well behaved or embrace the Spirit’s transformation?
The moralising voice was a stuck record that needed turning off. Religious performance had nothing good to say about who I was becoming in Christ. Fortunately, transformation was far more liberating.
Our old identity is permanently cut off from our new identity as a new creation. Christ’s burial was a burial of sin, shame and guilt once and for all (Romans 6:10). We no longer need to doubt that our imperfection is a threat to our identity and future in Christ.
Laying on the austere church floor was a bit humiliating, as I imagined their thoughts, “is that some flakey student or what?” It was an uncomfortable surrender to remain still in God’s Presence when my thoughts raged. However, the Spirit gently hovered over me quietly revealing my heavenly father’s affection toward me.
As my eyes opened to my identity in Christ - my true and real self - I understood that it was only in Christ that true transformation could continue. Trying to maintain my religious behaviour yet secretly despising my performance was exhausting. I was not in for negotiating with that approach - it had to die!
I was starting to see God as the author and perfecter of a transformation of my heart. Sheer willpower is not enough to sustain change, only the joy of a relationship with God in Christ can transform us.
I needed to adapt to living in grace - the gift of God to live in Christ, in union with Him, in his love with nothing to prove or gain and everything to enjoy. Surrendering to Holy Spirit, working from rest.
As my university years went on I grew in an understanding of how God transforms people through participation. There are no magic wands. Disciplines, spiritual practices and the commitments we make to a community, prayer and simple obedience are the pathways to receive and participate in Christ’s life.
No longer was I being stalked by demands from a perfectionist deity to reach impossible moral standards. Spiritual practices were making way for the Holy Spirit to awaken me to everything I was in Christ.
The middle-class student dream of following Christ as a bolt-on to my busy social life was being usurped by the irresistible Presence of Christ. Transformation was no longer a pipe dream, it was a deep well of life to draw from.
Are you living as a new creation - transformed by Christ - or managing a religious bolt on to your busy life?
What has motivated your walk with God so far - will power or joy?
Are spiritual practices a way of receiving from God or a way of proving how well you are doing as a Christian?
Consider the Fusion conference as a dangerous experience to stretch your faith to new limits. To book on, click here.