God calls us to be creative
Rev Philip Young, vicar of St Thomas’, Heigham, Norwich considers what bad habits we need to break in order that we can better follow Jesus.
Human beings are creatures of habit.
Some habits are of course good. It is a good habit to wash your teeth twice a day. It is good to take care each time you have to cross a road. It is a good habit to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and to treat other people with respect.
However habits can also be bad. It is a bad habit to leave the tap on when you are not using the water. It is bad to consume too much alcohol and be habitually drunk. It is a bad habit to swear at people and to lose your temper whilst driving.
At their worst bad habits can turn reasonable human beings into very sorry creatures. Those addicted to drugs or alcohol can become self-destructive and their lives can spiral out of control bringing grief to those around them.
Whole societies can take on bad habits. It is bad for our planet when our consumption levels are such that we are damaging the beautiful world that God has created for us. It is bad when we fall into the habit of going to war. It is bad when we hold prejudices against people who are different from us in skin colour, or race, or in the beliefs that they follow.
The season of Lent, the forty days and nights leading up to Easter, which this year begins with Ash Wednesday on March 9th is traditionally a time when we examine our bad habits in preparation for a new start at Easter. However it is always the right time to abandon bad habits.
God wants to lead us to renewal and to break the vicious cycle of bad habits. Our God is Creator and he wants us to be creative people and to come to our full potential as human beings made in his likeness.
Through the cross and resurrection Jesus has broken the vicious cycle of sin and death and brought new life. The old pattern of sin is hard to break as Paul realised when he wrote to the Romans, ‘For I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.’
Jesus shows us that love is stronger than hate, that life is more powerful than death and that old patterns can be broken through the power of the Holy Spirit and by following him. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the one who is promised to us and who gives us new life. In his words at Pentecost Peter says, ‘Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’. (Acts 2v38 NSRV)
The wonderful truth is that God wants to make us new creatures – new men and women. He wants us to be to be his children and to live by the leadings of his Spirit.
We must ask ourselves what bad habits we need to break in order that we can better follow him.
The call of God is to be perfect (see Matthew Ch5 v48), but we can only do this when we submit to the work of the Holy Spirit within us. The leadings of the Spirit will lead us into all truth. Are we willing to follow him and live adventurously? If we are, then he will give us life in all its fullness and we shall find that we are able to break out of our bad habits and live life to our full potential.
In fact we shall find the divine life breaking out in us and leading us into green pastures and beside still waters.