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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

22 August 2018: Dom Clarke - Pioneer Minister to Beacon Church Plant, Bordon

God’s Great Regeneration Plan

I wonder if you have ever experienced a sense of ‘regeneration’ in your life? This is a hot topic up here in Bordon where the whole town, and consequently its people, are being regenerated or transformed as a result of the massive building works taking place after the army left us in 2015. For us in Bordon it feels dramatic, sudden and all encompassing but for others the process of transformation brought about by the normal everyday trials and tribulations of life may feel paced; a series of steps and revelations, perhaps even only understood and realised in hindsight. The truth is though that we all change over time. Nothing, it seems, stays the same forever.

Whatever your experience it is a fact revealed in the Bible and the experience of the Church from its earliest days right up to now that a relationship with Jesus and an experience of the Holy Spirit brings utter regeneration of the self and transformation of our hearts, minds and even our bodies – for the better.

One who knew well the joys and pains of transformation found in Jesus was Paul, the man who was originally a zealous persecutor of Christians but was ‘regenerated’ into one of Jesus’ greatest missionaries and evangelists following a sudden encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In a letter he later wrote to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12: 2-10) Paul talks with vivid language about being “caught up to the third heaven”; of auditory experiences, and even of glimpsing paradise by the experience of meeting Jesus that day. As he writes he describes the experience in the ‘third person’ as if it is not him but somebody else who experienced this great change of character. Why? Well, I think that Paul is making an important point he is NOT the same person after meeting Jesus than he was before. He even changed his name at that point from Saul to the name we now remember him by.

Sometimes the experience of transformation brought about by faith can make life tough for a while, or the change can be a traumatic one - it certainly seemed to be for Paul. Sometimes we have to let go of things or lifestyles that have been precious or all-consuming for us. Paul had this experience too and he met many people who did their utmost to hold him back from blossoming into his new life (he called one particular hater a “thorn in the flesh” which sounds very painful indeed). The same call is made on each of us. We are all called to a life fully lived, embracing the transformation that God brings to us and to the world through Jesus, to shake off the haters and the nay-sayers and the critics, to seek more and then to share it, and through that, encourage others in their process of regeneration. We do this not s

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