Thriving from the inside out

Need a drink? Last week Sam was talking about how Christian thriving doesn’t start and end with good life circumstances; nice house, family, and car, but by wanting Jesus, finding our life in Him. You could say – thriving from the inside out. And that starts by being thirsty, thirsty for Jesus.

Once you know your thirsty, the next thing you do is go get a drink and it’s the same here, we go to Jesus, we come to Him in prayer.

This week we’re exploring how when we’ve come to Jesus, in the words of the Fresh Prince, ‘my life got flipped-turned upside down’. And if we’ll take a minute, we’ll talk about… child birth.

Well not quite child birth, that’s a different blog, but Bible writers do use the analogy of new birth (with slightly fewer gory details than you might get from a new mother) to describe becoming a Christian, choosing to follow Jesus. The image of new birth tells us a few things. It is a total transformation and results in a new person, a new family and a new world.

Whenever a new baby is born, it is difficult not to remark at the miracle of life. How tiny humans emerge in perfectly formed little packages. The miracle of birth and life always leads me to awe of God and how He creates each of us. And in just the same way we can’t make this new birth happen ourselves, the miracle of new life in Jesus is just as miraculous and made by God. Only God can do it. That’s our first lesson.

Newborns don’t look like newborns for long, each day they change and grow. And in the same way with Jesus we see a new person created and the focus is on who we are becoming. New life doesn’t end at birth, it’s the starting point. Just as a baby learns through simple ways of doing things, so we learn through simple practices. Learning to pray, get to know the Bible etc… And we grow, in Bible book Hebrews chapter 5 it talks about this journey of discipleship going from starting on milk to maturing to solid food.

Every baby needs a family. No newborn can fend for themselves without a parents love and care. And we never grow out of family, we might leave home and have children ourselves and become more independent in many ways. But we never outgrow family. My 86 year Grandma still needs family and the lockdowns this year have shown this more than ever when so many of us have been cut off from family and loved ones.

Spiritually, in our new birth, we need family too, we were made to do this together. We need to meet with others, to pray, for encouraging each other, it’s called church. Life might need to slow down to be part of a family, I can testify to young children doing that, simply leaving the house triples in time! But it is so much richer and walking together sustains us over the long haul. And as my Grandma would remind me, life is a marathon not a sprint.

Claiming that new birth leads to a new world might seem like a grandiose leap. But each person makes a mark. And not just when you think about their impact during their lifetime but when you look back over generations particularly the further back you go, it’s amazing how 2 people making a baby can lead to hundreds of others in their offspring who would have never otherwise existed. In the same way, our new life in Jesus doesn’t stop with us.

We exist for others, to see others thrive, to join in with God’s movement to see all people and places alive with Jesus at the heart. Of course we want to see more people be born again, to see people grow in this new life, and to see this new life affecting the very places we are from our communities to creation.

In perhaps less poetic language than new birth, as Church at Barking Riverside, we describe our Purpose (the break down of our Vision) as: join in with God’s movement (only He can do it) to see the UK thriving by multiplying disciples, raising up leaders, shaping communities, planting churches.

This isn’t a to-do list but a description of fruit we expect to see as we are born in this new life with Jesus, each one of us becoming more like Him, doing it together and for others. We’d love to ride this with you, you can join in here.

Look out this Sunday@6pm for our next Vlog where we will be looking more at what it means to be Defined by Dependence on God, which is our first of our 3 core values that we are exploring this term. These values are our way of describing the new life we’re called to live, the people we’re called to be, as those who follow Jesus – His Church here at Barking Riverside and beyond.

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