In modern Western societies, it is fashionable to dismiss the good news of Jesus Christ as irrelevant.
Other things appear more real and urgent: earning a living, getting an education, curing cancer, defeating poverty.
It's not that these issues are unimportant, but when we focus on these kinds of things they have a tendency of making the Gospel appear irrelevant. After all (as the reasoning goes), what does the Gospel have to do with these "real life problems"?
Like the Moon eclipsing the Sun, these kinds of issues have a way of eclipsing the priority of becoming more like Jesus.
Before I give you three reasons why the good news of Jesus Christ, and the transforming work of the Spirit, are not irrelevant, here’s a brief recap.
How can you cooperate with the Spirit in his work of transforming you to become more “like Christ”?
Answering this question has led us to clusters of the words “Spirit” and “spiritual” – both references to the Holy Spirit – in the letters to the Corinthians.
In these ‘cluster’ texts we discover ways in which we can actively engage with the Spirit in this life-long process of transformation. So far, this has included changes in:
The next cluster of “Spirit” texts is 2 Corinthians 3.
How do these texts equip us to cooperate with the Spirit?
In 2 Corinthians 3, there is a contrast between the activities of the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34) and the good news given through Jesus.
Part of this contrast is that the law was engraved on tablets of stone; whereas the gospel is “written … with the Spirit of the living God … on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3).
When we regard how Islam, Buddhism – indeed, every religion – produces change in their adherents, it is by behavior modification. Practices and penalties are imposed upon the person externally to bring that person into conformity with the religion’s rules and values. Islam’s Sharia law is an obvious example of this.
By contrast, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the change is being affected by the Spirit internally as He changes our hearts, which includes our desires, affections, attitudes, and ways of thinking. These heart-changes manifest themselves in life-changes.
Lives changed because of transformed hearts are relevant.
Another contrast is that the ministry of the law condemns and kills (3:6, 9).
The work of the Spirit is to bring righteousness and give life (3:6,9).
Paul concludes that both these ministries are glorious – but the ministry of the Spirit is “the surpassing glory” that lasts (3:10-11). The Spirit eclipses the law because He gives life.
Instead of condemnation and death, life is being given – and that’s relevant.
“Moses … put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the glory was fading away” (3:13). This signified that the ministry of the law was fading away.
In contrast, the ministry of the Spirit lasts – it’s here to stay.
The work of the Spirit in the lives of followers of Jesus is not a passing thing – it is THE thing! This is what life is all about both now, and into the unending future.
When we grasp the lasting reality of this work of the Spirit, Paul tells us we experience boldness and freedom (3:12, 17). With confidence, we can declare that this Spirit-work is not irrelevant. In fact, as we experience the Spirit working in our lives, we can demonstrate that there is nothing more relevant!
Do you ever wonder whether it’s relevant to be cooperating with the Spirit in his work of transforming you into the likeness of Jesus?
Lives that are becoming more like Jesus are lives that will impact this world for good in ways we have not imagined.
There are times in our lives when other things appear to be much more important – times when the work of the Spirit appears to be irrelevant. These times are like the Moon eclipsing the Sun.
In those times, it is good to remember that the Spirit desires to be:
This is the Spirit changing lives at a fundamental level. What could be more relevant?
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