Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:9-11)

For years I have been going to a gym to physically work out. Through the years my reasons for going have changed (to deal with stress, to address a cholesterol problem, to add strength so work schedules can be addressed, etc.), but the experience remains basically the same. The experience: determine a routine, commit yourself to the routine, go regularly, and exert yourself. Is going to the gym boring and tedious? For me, the answer is, “Yes!” Then why go? Simple: you like the way you feel because you go.

Over time some things become obvious. For example, usually there is a noticeable increase in gym attendance in January (New Year’s resolutions) and a corresponding drop off in attendance in February (“Forget that—who needs self-induced pain!”). Often, those who begin invest in a workout outfit—the shoes, the clothes, and the accessories. However, acquiring an outfit does not substitute for commitment to a lifestyle change. One can go to great expense to “look the part” and not follow through to his or her objective. It takes much more than outward appearance to achieve one’s objective.

The simplest part of being a Christian is submitting to baptism. Why? Baptism is an expression of faith in God’s work in Jesus Christ which leads you to a desire to turn your life around. The decision to be baptized may be difficult, but the life that follows is more demanding. It quite literally involves a change in lifestyle on the deepest level of existence. There are new definitions of good and evil or right and wrong. There is a commitment to being a righteous person. There are new temptations. There are attacks by Satan.

Then why do it? For two basic reasons. (1) You profoundly appreciate what God and Jesus did (and do) for you. (2) You find your fulfillment in being a righteous person. You appreciate God, and you respect what Jesus did in allowing you to become a godly person. When you compare the “old you” to the “new you,” you have zero desire to revert to the “old you.”

When you become a Christian, do more than just invest in the outfit. (Do more than “go to church,” appear in the directory and on the mailing list, and claim “rights” as a member.) Embrace your new lifestyle. Be the new person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, wherever you are. Do the outward things because of the inward changes.

We are not Christians to eliminate life’s twists and turns. We are Christians to cope with life’s twists and turns. Always remember the Cross was one of the “twists and turns of life” for Jesus. Also remember Jesus Christ shows us the way to God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 12 February 2009

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