A new creation! I’m Malcolm Cox. Welcome to this series on ‘A new creation’. Today, the connection between being a new creation and change.  How do we change?
Last week we explored the nature of spiritual growth. That it is empowered by God, aimed at Christlikeness and enabled by Jesus.
“[We]…are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NRSV)
This week we will take the last point further and look at some key principles of spiritual change. Spiritual growth is:

  1. Both practical and mystical
    Our main avenue for spiritual growth is to walk with Jesus as one of his followers – just like they did when Jesus was on this earth. On one level, simply saying ‘yes’ to Jesus’ offer of friendship is all that is needed. As someone said, ‘Proximity makes disciples’.
    “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 NIV11)
    QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION: How can we live ‘in proximity to Jesus’ today?
    In addition, we grow as we cooperate with the Spirit, which is a mystical enterprise. Harking back to the passage in 2 Cor 3.18….
    “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:8 NIV11)
    QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION: If the work of the Spirit is mystical, how can we cooperate with his work in us?
  2. Both quick and slow
    Sometimes growth comes in a flash.
    “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism” (Acts 10:34 NIV11)
    DISCUSSION: Share a time when you grew quickly
    More often, growth is slow and meandering.
    “Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.'” John 11:16 (NIV)
    “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'” John 14:5 (NIV)
    ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ John 20.24-29
    DISCUSSION: Share about an aspect of spiritual growth that took time to develop in you
  3. Both personal and corporate
    Your journey is unique. Don’t compare yourself to other people, only to your past self. Relationship is more art than science – not engineering.
    “When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”” (John 21:21-23 NRSV)
    Your growth is personal, but not private
    “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NRSV)
    Spiritual growth can be stimulated and catalysed by our actions, but the key is to open ourselves up so that God can do his work. 
    For reflection
  • Which points do you find yourself most comfortable with and why—practical, mystical, quick, slow, personal, corporate?
  • How have you seen God work for your transformation so far?
  • Do you find it easy or hard to open yourself up to God doing his work?
  • What will help you most to cooperate with God’s work in your life?
    Next time we will go on to look at another aspect of change, focusing on models of transformation.
    Your brother, Malcolm
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