Emerging as New

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Last week I had the chance to spend time in Nicaragua for the first time in almost two years. It was truly a gift to be able to spend time with friends and see all that God is doing through NicaWorks! in Nicaragua. In addition vocational training, agriculture projects, the school uniform project, and more going on in Nicaragua, they have been experiencing a ton of spiritual renewal. It was an encouragement to experience this in person. It was also a great reminder of an important reality–finding new life in Christ is not just to save us from an eternity without God, it is an opportunity to live fully today.

In his Gospel recording, John wrote down these words of Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV) In the Evangelical church, we often fixate on the eternal consequences of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is certainly of great importance. However, we sometimes sell Jesus’ work short by not focusing on Jesus’ promise for today of a “full life” as it says in John. Jesus offers us new life that starts immediately–we do not have to wait until we go to heaven. Certainly, life will still be full of challenges. We live in a sinful world. At the same time, finding spiritual hope in Jesus, and his promise of the Holy Spirit, can provide us with a renewed perspective as we approach the brokenness we encounter on a daily basis. Instead of finding ourselves trapped in hopelessness, we can find hope in the truth that God’s desire is for us to live fully.

A beautiful picture of this is the act of baptism. I have been baptized twice, once as a baby and once as an adult. However, I have been growing in my appreciation for the power of baptism in a person’s life from the experiences of my friends in Nicaragua. While I have always believed baptism is important and an outward expression of my faith, I do not know that I fully grasped it’s significance. Instead of just a symbol, the act of baptism is burying your old self (who you were before trusting in Jesus) in the water, and emerging as your new self (who you are in Christ) as you come out of the water. While I knew this intellectually, I am not sure I understood its full implications at a heat level.

Do you see how this relates to the opportunity to live a full life today? Instead of waiting until “God takes us home”, we have been born new to begin living a new life today. The act of baptism gives us a marker to look back on when we begin to lose site of this new life. We can remember we buried our old self and no longer have to live as if life is hopeless or meaningless. We now have an opportunity to live fully into the life for which God has created us.

This is having an incredible impact in Nicaragua. In a place where hopelessness is easier to see due to the poverty that exists, people are finding hope for today. However, the message is not just for Nicaragua. My prayer is that I can begin to view my life through this lens more regularly. If I have been given a new life, why would I not live fully into it?

What about you? Do you want to live a full life? Maybe it is time to take a new look at new life offered through Jesus.

James Belt

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