Reorientation: How to Live as New Creatures in Christ

Orientation: How To Live As a New Creation In Christ

It’s midnight in San Antonio, TX. I’m lined up on a concrete pad with 49 other young men. We’re all dog tired—worn out from emotional goodbyes, invasive medical screenings, and a plane ride or two across the country.

Before long, a 7-foot tall drill sergeant comes busting through the squadron door. His profanity-laden tirade isn’t fit for print, but the gist is clear: “you’re in my world now, cupcake.”

Facing a New Reality

For six weeks, that was undoubtedly true. I was in “his” world—a.k.a. basic-training for the United States Air Force. As any good boot camp should, that experience stripped me down to my core and refashioned me in the image of an ideal “airman.”

Your story’s probably different.

Maybe your “boot camp” was orientation week during your freshman year at college. Perhaps it was the new employee training at your present job. Or, maybe it was that first month after your parents split up, your best friend died, or your spouse left you.

In one way or another, we’ve all been here: disoriented by the alien nature of our present circumstances and forced to reorient ourselves to a brand new reality—whether we like it or not.

Our Spiritual Reorientation

For Christians, this is especially true. We’ve been called from darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9), adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15), and given new citizenship in His kingdom (Phil 3:20). In sum, God has made us radically new in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

This transition almost always involves a clean break with the sinful patterns and relationships that marked our pre-Christian lives. It demands we profoundly adjust the ways we make decisions, use our resources, and interact with the people around us.

All of that is profoundly disorienting. And, if you don’t remember what it was like for you, sit down for a cup of coffee with a recent convert, and you’ll see what I mean.

Lucky for us, God isn’t a vindictive drill sergeant. The ideal He has in mind for us isn’t a squared-away neatnik with impeccable boot-shining credentials, but the image of His eternally perfect Son (Romans 8:29).

Though His reorientation process doesn’t come without its own kind of pain (James 1:2-4), He promises His Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us as we strive towards the goal.

So, how can we reorient ourselves to our new reality in Christ?

Claim Your Identity

Reorientation means learning how to exist within your new state of affairs. For Christians, that involves no less than claiming the identity that is ours in Christ.

You are an adopted child of the triune God (John 1:12-13).

Because of what Jesus has done, you have access to the Father (Eph 2:18) and will live forever in His presence (Rev 22:1-5).

God has given you His Spirit as the power of new life at work within you (Gal 5:16-26).

This process is every bit as important to “mature” believers as it is to those who are new in the faith. Every day, the world gives us reasons to find our identity outside of Christ. Whenever we head down one of those blind alleys, we need reminders of who we are in Christ and reoriented to what it means to live as one of God’s children.

Pray Like a Child

Prayer is the practical expression of our new identity in Christ.

When we come to God in prayer, we acknowledge Him as our Father (Matt 6:9). We kneel safely in His presence only because Jesus has opened up the way to His heavenly sanctuary (Heb 10:19-20). We find the words to speak, not because we’re clever, but because His Spirit groans within us (Romans 8:23).

Orientation: How To Live As a New Creation In Christ

When we pray, we don’t just ask God to do stuff. We reframe our lives in practical acknowledgment of His control over all our circumstances.

When we pray, we don’t just ask God to do stuff. We reframe our lives in practical acknowledgment of His control over all our circumstances. In that way, we reorient ourselves to live in light of what is profoundly true about us and our world.

Walk Humbly With Your God

Long ago, St. Augustine penned this famously controversial prayer: “Oh God, grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire.” For some, these words provided scandalous cover for moral laxity: “don’t behave until God makes you behave.”

But, Augustine’s more profound point was that God’s calling to new life always includes the power to obey. We may fail. We may fall. We may lose our way, but God promises to keep working with us so that we can work out the effects of His grace in our lives (Phil 2:13).

So, part of reorienting our lives simply means living in the knowledge that God is at work within us. We don’t have to wait on the sidelines until God writes a message in the clouds. Instead, we can take action knowing that He is in us, with us, and for us.

Be Encouraged

Life in the midst of a fallen world can be profoundly disorienting. Still, God has not left us without help. By His Spirit, we’ve received everything we need to reorient ourselves to the new life given to us in Christ.

In our 28-day I Can Only Imagine study, we’ve built a threefold strategy for experiencing spiritual transformation: recall, reorient, and reimagine. My previous post talked about how to recall our past in light of God’s present. This post has looked at the second of those three. In the next, we’ll consider what it means to reimagine our lives in Christ.

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