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Monthly Letter

The Vicarage

Dear Friends

I’ve just had to renew my driving licence. It makes me feel quite old to be having to renew for the second time. It means I’ve been driving for twenty years now – well over half my lifetime!

It is strange though, that when we renew things, often we are really just asking for things to remain unchanged. Like my licence, for example, I don’t intend that my renewal will do anything other than enable me to keep driving as I was before. I’m not sure it’s an appropriate usage of the word ‘renew’ really since I’ve neither had a break from driving, nor am I entering into any fresh new phase of my driving life and nor is my driving particularly broken and in need of renewal. The renewal application is therefore an administrative chore which I do because I have to, not because I want to.

The Bible uses the word ‘renew’ in a very different way; one that is exciting. In Romans 12:2, we read: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect.’

For Christians, renewal is a break from the past, a break from the norm, and an opening up of limitless potential. It is a break from the norm, because we are no longer conformed to the world. Through renewal in Jesus we no longer live as citizens of a worldly society, but a heavenly one. We have loftier goals, longer vision, and hearts that beat for God’s kingdom.

Renewal is a break from the past because it is transformative. Renewal in God is not like my driving licence where nothing really changes. Instead, it is the chance to be literally made new again – or born again in Christian speak – as a new person. God gives us the chance to turn our backs on old destructive patterns of life, or even old ways of thinking, and embrace a fresh start with new life and vitality.

Renewal opens up potential. We no longer tell our stories based on what has gone before, but instead we narrative ourselves in view of things to come. We understand ourselves not by what we’ve accomplished, but by what God accomplished for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. As renewed people, we can discern and follow God more closely, drawing closer and closer to what is good and perfect.

For Christians, renewal isn’t an administrative chore. It’s an exciting reality, an unmissable opportunity, and a transformation of life as we know it. If only the same could be said of my driving licence application form!

Steve