It's that time of year again, when we think about turning over a new leaf. But if you're like me, it's all fairly depressing. So many of our bad habits and personality defects are very stubborn. However hard we try, however many times we start out with good intentions, we see little lasting change in our lives from year to year.
But it's not acceptable for a Christian to give in so easily to that way of thinking. A Christian is someone who has been 'born again…through the living and enduring word of God' (1Peter 1 v 23). A Christian is a 'new creation, the old has gone, the new has come' (2Corinthians 5 v 17).
So Christians are people who have real expectations of ongoing and permanent change: 'Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind' (Romans 12 v 2). Throughout the New Testament, whilst there is no expectation of reaching perfection this side of the grave, there is real expectation of real change in us.
We need help! And help is at hand. Here's the blurb about a book we are going to use at St George's in 2010, to help us make progress, and to show the power of the gospel to change our lives – to the glory of God!
"'You Can Change' is not a self-help book. It is only interested in transforming us into the likeness of Christ.
The power for change is not inner strength or willpower, but the grace of God through the death of his Son, applied by his Spirit.
The method of change is not rules and programmes, but faith and repentance.
The setting for change is not the counsellor's office or a solitary retreat, but the community of God's people speaking the truth in love.
The goal of change is not to find yourself, but to forget yourself in love and service. The message is not so much that you can change, as that God can change you."
You Can Change on Wednesdays at St George's. Whoever you are, however short or long you have been a Christian, why not come along and join us, either at 1pm or 7.30 pm?
Vicar, St Georges