Daniel Fast Day 20

A Spiritual Collage of Us

There’s this old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If one picture is worth a thousand words then it goes without saying that a bunch of pictures are worth even more. Put a bunch of pictures together and we have a collage. God made us to think in pictures. Words have the ability to a paint picture in our minds that is so vivid we feel like we are experiencing it. Just have someone relay a story or a situation they’ve been in and we vicariously experience it in our own minds. For example, what if I were to say to you, “I was walking the other day and saw a dog”. In your mind, did you see a dog? Although it’s not very descriptive, you probably mentally saw a dog. But what if I say, “I was walking the other day, and I walked past this bright orange house with a chain link fence, and behind the fence and I saw this big muscular black dog. At first, it did not see me. But suddenly without warning, this gigantic, vicious dog charged at me. The dog was growling, jumping against the fence, and snarling at me and I could see the saliva dripping from its yellow fangs. I was so startled that my heart was racing a million miles an hour and I did the best Usain Bolt impression I could and got out of there.” Now let me ask you again, did you see the dog? I know you did because I did and it didn’t really happen to me! However, I will be avoiding bright orange houses from now on, just in case. 

When our minds are renewed, our imagination can be a powerful asset, but a mind not renewed can be a detriment. If we are going to live our lives deeply rooted and grounded in Christ then we must see the true picture of who we are in Jesus. Paul builds one of the greatest collages as He writes to the Colossians. He paints the picture showing us what has happened to us when we come to Christ. “When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.  For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.  You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:11-14 (NLT)

Here’s the picture collage that Paul gives us. We were spiritually circumcised by Christ. We were buried with Christ through baptism. We were raised to a new life by God’s mighty power. We were made alive with Christ through the Father’s forgiveness. We were exonerated from the charges against us by Jesus nailing them to the cross. What an incredible picture of who we are in Christ! We were circumcised in the heart. This speaks of our adoption into the family and covenant of God. Circumcision was an act of faith that God required from Abraham before the law. It signified God's dependence, not self-reliance. For us, it signifies the cutting away of our old sinful nature. The Father willingly adopts us into His family and the Holy Spirit puts the Father’s DNA on our hearts by cutting away our old sinful self. We have a brand new nature. “They can do this because a person is not a true Jew if he is only a Jew in his physical body; true circumcision is not only on the outside of the body.  “A person is a Jew only if he is a Jew inside; true circumcision is done in the heart by the Spirit, not by the written law. Such a person gets praise from God rather than from people.” Romans 2:28-29 (NCV) This circumcision happens on the inside but it doesn’t stay there. Because through our baptism, we outwardly declare the inner change that has taken place.

Baptism is not simply a ritual. It is an act of obedience that signifies our new identity. We are not ashamed of what has happened in our hearts. We celebrate it by identifying with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Thereby making a declaration that we have died to our old life, (we only bury dead people), and that we now live according to what God desires of us. “Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4 (NIV) This identification with Jesus is more than enough but just like Jesus did not stay in the grave, we also are raised to a new way of life. This new way of living functions with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Meaning, we don’t have to live the Christian life in our own power, we live it through the power of God. You have resurrection power flowing through you! “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.  Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” Romans 8:11-12 (NLT)

The demands of our old sinful nature, are swallowed up by our new identity in Christ. We don’t have to fake it ‘til we make it. We just need to know that the old self is buried through baptism. I am sure, you have looked at pictures of yourself when you were younger. The first thing that usually comes to mind is how you have changed. We say things like, “Man, have I changed! I look so young in this picture” or “Do you remember this style?” Looking at yourself through the lens of baptism will show you how God has changed your life. That old selfish, self-absorbed lifestyle is buried and a new life blossoms. A life of humility, grace, and love! Thank God our identity is in Him! But just like the infomercials, “But wait, there’s more; much, much more!”

We are adopted through the circumcision of our hearts, we are identified through baptism and we are transformed through His forgiveness. We were dead because of sin but have been made alive through His forgiveness. The greatest transformation has taken place because we have gone from death to life! “Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.  Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.” Romans 3:22-24 (TLB) We no longer carry in our hearts the guilt of our disobedience. We are not exonerated because we have no guilt, quite the contrary. Our guilt was obvious to all. We were not just caught with our hands in the cookie jar. Our mouths were filled and we were covered with crumbs. The evidence of our guilt was stacked against us. But thank God, Jesus took our guilt and He nailed it to the cross. He transforms our lives by taking our guilt on Himself and then He declares us innocent! How deep is His grace. How wide is His forgiveness. How transformative is His love. 

We are adopted. We are given a brand new identity. We are not in a spiritual witness protection program. Our old identity is not hidden, pretending to be someone else. We are not just someone else, we are someone new. It’s called being born again! We died with Jesus, we were buried with Jesus and we were raised to a new life in Jesus. This new life is not from a corruptible seed but from the incorruptible Seed of the Word of God! “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23 (NLT) When the enemy of our faith reminds us of who we were, we simply need to point to Jesus and look at the picture of who we are in Christ.

It’s time to throw out those old pictures. It’s time to page through the new collage given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We belong to the Father. We are identified in and through Christ Jesus. We are marked by the Spirit and transformed by God’s grace. We are forgiven and we are free. Take a fresh picture and see the real you, the new you. The old one is dead and buried. The new one is alive in Christ Jesus!

Prayer and Reflection:
  • What can you do to remind yourself daily of who you are in Jesus?
  • Why do we struggle to walk in the freedom that Jesus paid for? 
  • Conviction leads us closer to Jesus, guilt drives us away from Jesus. How else can we discern whether what we sense is the Holy Spirit’s conviction or guilt propagated by the devil?
  • Baptism is crucial to our spiritual development and witness. Have you been baptized? Do you encourage others to be baptized? Considering what we learned today, do you see the importance of baptism?

Father, words are insufficient to describe the gratitude that I have for what You have done for me. I will forever be grateful and thankful. I just want to take this moment to praise You. Thank You that I am adopted into Your family. Thank You that my identity is found in Jesus. Thank You that You have transformed me and given me a brand new life. Thank You that I don’t have to rely on my own strength to live for You but that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in me.

Thank You that You took all the charges against me and nailed them to the cross and publicly declared my innocence. Father thank You that you are not ashamed of me but that You have made me acceptable in Your beloved. My heart overflows with thanksgiving and praise. My soul rejoices!

Help me daily to look at the new picture You have shown me and to see myself the way You see me. Thank You, thank You, thank You! In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen!

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