We can’t leave this series of blogs (261-264) on our ‘New Life in Christ’ and ‘Living from that New Christ life within’, without taking a look at Eugene Peterson’s thought provoking paraphrase of Romans 8:9-17 in The Message. He writes……
‘Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them – living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God……. But if God Himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him. Anyone who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we are talking about. But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells- even though you still experience limitations of sin – you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason doesn’t it, that if the alive and present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be alive as Christ’s!
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing is to give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirit and confirms who we really are.’
The thing that resonates with me today is the emphasis that his paraphrase of this passage has, on the need for us to focus on our New Life in Christ and not keep trying to deal with the old. It’s a faith position that we take up here, as we have pointed out previously in different ways. The old has gone the new has come, and what we focus on will become our reality.
The antidote to the ‘obsession with self’ that Eugene Patterson mentions here, is to stay grateful, and in thankfulness, for that New Life that we all have now deep within. Staying thankful for our ‘New Life’ is how we give the ‘attention to God that leads us out into the open, spacious free life*, that he describes.
In any and every situation – the good, the bad and the ugly – thanksgiving to the Lord for His indwelling presence will keep my focus on Him and the empowering grace that comes as standard with His presence, and I will increasingly find myself naturally producing good fruit instead of bad.
This is such an incredible aspect of our salvation and one that accords with Jesus instruction to us to ‘abide’ in Him and let His words ‘abide’ in us, so that we bear much fruit. John 15:4,5,7,8. And I think that as we grasp the immensity of what He has done and is doing for us, our gratitude will move from ‘making a willful choice’ to just welling up and overflowing from our hearts. Matthew 12:34.
*The picture of ‘the spacious’ or ‘broad’ place is one that the psalmist uses Psalm 18:36, 31:8, to denote deliverance and freedom from his enemies.