Kenneth Cober was a 20th-century hymnist who wrote a hymn in 1960 entitled, “Renew Thy Church,” In recent years, some songbooks have adapted the hymn. The first verse goes like this.
Renew your church, our ministries restore:
both to serve and adore.
Make us again as salt throughout the land,
and as light from a stand.
‘Mid somber shadows of the night,
where greed and hatreds spread their blight,
O send us forth with power endued,
help us, Lord, be renewed.
Our word of the week, “renew,” will serve as our preaching and writing theme for 2022.
For almost two years we have been consumed with a deadly virus that has wrought havoc in our world. Every sector of our society continues to be impacted. From sports to business, to education, to politics, to air travel, and to the work and worship of our churches we continue to feel the effects.
Furthermore, in the midst of sickness and suffering, we see a world that has lost its way. Our culture has been corrupted by greed, pride and lusts of the flesh. Partisan politics has divided our land, and sadly in some cases fractured our fellowship. If we allow ourselves, it’s easy to become dismayed, discouraged, and depressed.
In the cross-hairs of confusion, consternation, and compromise, we need a return to confidence, calm, and courage. We need to be renewed.
Renew is a Bible word used in both Old and New Testaments that speaks to revival. Restoration. Regeneration. And a reawakening.
The renewal of which we write and speak is inward. It is mental. Emotional. And spiritual. It is the type of renewal of which the apostle Paul admonished, “Be renewed in the attitude of your minds” (Eph. 4:23).
In his fine commentary on Ephesians, C. G. (Colly) Caldwell, offers this insight regarding renewal.
“The nature of the change desired by God is a spiritual renewal. The location where the change takes place is the mind. To be renewed is to be renovated by inward reformation so as to be made young. The new life is coextensive with the death of the old.”
“The job is only half done in putting away sin. When we put off negatively, we must put on positively. Whole-hearted acceptance of the new way of living in Christ is the mark of the reformed man.”
Furthermore, the grammatical construction of the Greek text Colly writes, “suggested continual action. Literally, the command requires that we ‘continue to be renewed.’”
Renewal can continually occur when we refuse to be pressed and pressured into this world’s mold of conformity of political correctness, compromising appeasement, and religious ecumenicalism. Rather, we must be transformed to the image and attitude of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1-2, Phil. 2:5).
Christians are called to renewal. Not just in the act of baptism. But through the process of discipleship. Of daily practicing disciplines that encourage, ennoble and strengthen us. Of looking upward instead of outward. And seeing beyond our own personal “present distress,” an opportunity for spiritual growth.
Renewal will not occur accidentally. It must be the intentional reaffirmation of our values, purpose, and priorities. Renewal of the mind, spirit, and heart is found through reading good books. Meditating on Scripture. Exploring nature. Prayer. Worship. Fellowship. Friendship. Music. And laughter. Indeed the wise man was right, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22).
A steady diet of watching 24-hour cable news, surfing the internet, or trolling social media posts will not produce the renewal our souls desperately need. Just a thought.
The opposite of renewal is destruction. Exhaustion. And impoverishment. We have the power to choose which route we will pursue.
For 2022, we will offer a word each week that speaks to the need for renewal. Will you join us on this journey?
Let’s renew in ‘22.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman