Life Verse| Status Update
A while back, my friends Paul, Sarah and I would have a “religious appointment” with the TV to watch Extreme Makeover. Now, if you’ve never seen that show, a quick synopsis is that a family is in need of a new house. Either there has been a major financial issue or a death in the family or there is a major medical issue causing hardship.
A design team, led by Ty Pennington, in cooperation with the network, choose a family, listen to their needs, desires, hopes and dreams and then send them on vacation for a week while they build them a new house. The stories are always heartwarming and touching and often difficult to bear, which brings tears to your eyes but in the end, you felt like a good thing was done for the deserving family.
Now I don’t know about you but I love getting new things. As a matter of fact, just the other day I had to go out and get new shoes because the winter is always tough on the shoes I have and they easily get destroyed. I love the look and smell of a new car, I love setting up a new laptop and the list just goes on and on. The point is simple: I love new things.
When it comes to Christianity, there is a similarity between getting new things and what God does for us. Yet, it’s important to understand the truth of what God has done and continues to do for us and this truth can set us free! Are you ready for it?
Here’s the truth: Jesus will not give you a second chance. We don’t ‘start over’ when it comes to God. Jesus comes in and makes us completely brand new. We are not second chance Christians, we are not repackaged Christians, we are brand new.
Throughout my life as a believer in Christ, I have been guilty of thinking and saying this “God gave me a second chance.” While I may get caught up in semantics sometimes, the reality behind that statement is that second chances means there is something terribly wrong with me and God has to work with that. God is basically getting a defective product (me) but the Word says He makes all things new!
[A New Covenant]
1 Corinthians 11:23-26- “For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.”
A lot of electronic devices that come out come with what is known as ‘planned obsolescence’. In essence what that means is the manufacturer knows ahead of time when their product will fail. It allows them to draw customers back and reveal a new product, which is better. As an example, every time I buy a new phone, I get a 2 year contract with my carrier. Just about every 2 years, my phone dies and when I go back to the store I am offered a new line of better phones, which offer better service and have more apps and I am offered an opportunity to upgrade.
God did the same thing with the Old Covenant. The O.C was a temporary measure until the time of Christ. (Gal. 3:19) The problem was not the Old Covenant in and of itself but rather the sinful nature in us. God had to deal with our sin and he did so by sending his Son, Jesus, who fulfilled the Law (old covenant) and died in our place.
The Old Covenant pointed to the Person of Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Way, Truth and Life.”
The Old Covenant exposed our sin. Jesus said, “Father forgive them.”
The Old Covenant brings death. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life.”
[A New Life]
Romans 6:4- “For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”
It’s easy to say this but hard to grasp this-we were dead in sin and now we are dead to sin. Before we called upon the name of Christ our Lord, our souls were dead inside. Not breathing, not moving, not rejoicing but just dead. The only activity would have been hostility towards God and that came through our carnal minds.
As we indulged our sinful ways, our minds became both corrupt and hostile towards God and we were his enemies but God, in Christ, reconciled us to himself. We are now called friends of God and co-heirs with Christ.
We have, in us, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. As such, we too now live by that Spirit.
[A New Creation]
2 Corinthians 5:17- “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
I love to see and hear of stories of transformation. I especially love to hear testimonies (which are what inspired my next blog series, Jesus Changed My Life). I often find myself lost and stuck in a rut which I cannot seem to get out of. I find sometimes that I cannot break away from the mundane life that is thrown at me. I get caught up in the causality of living a simple life. There comes this tension inside of me that wants to break away from the ordinary and do something great, something radical.
Jesus did that! I lived, I breathed and I existed without God in my life for so long. Without hope I crawled through the trials of this life, on my own strength. I struggled to make ends meet and sometimes I am still guilty of doing that. Sometimes I struggle and fight through the chaos of life without clinging to the hope and new life in Jesus.
Jesus came to bring about a new life in me. The old self, the old ways, the sinful nature, is dying inside of me. The old self is being thrown away as I am renewed by the love of God. I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind. I am being changed, I am being transformed, and I am being made new and becoming more like Jesus as I continue to pursue him.
[A New Identity]
Ephesians 2:14-16- “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death."
A friend of mine, Myric McBain wrote the following: “A mistake Christians make is believing that God’s plan is to save people as individuals rather than people as part of a community…The result of this mistake is isolated Christians and insulated churches, and the community of believers God calls us to be becomes ineffective and unloving.”
A sad reality looms over Christianity in the way of having hostility towards one another. We become hostile not only towards other people groups but also denominational lines. Now I agree that there are false teachers/prophets who seek to divide and destroy the church from within and we are called to not have anything to do with them. Standing up for the truth is one thing but we should not elevate our understanding of Scripture and destroy relationships either.
But the Word clearly says that there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one Father. (Eph. 4:5). Additionally, Jesus prayed for unity with his prayer in the garden. As such, we should seek unity. God, in Christ, came not to save us as individuals but to create a new community.
We were created for fellowship, encouragement, good works and accountability. These are all aspects of God’s community-which serve to build us as we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
[A New Command]
John 13:34-35- “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
As the old has gone and we are made new and given a new identity, Jesus calls us to a new commandment. The new commandment is to love one another as Christ has loved us. Jesus is the example to follow. It is the love of Christ that compels us to love others.
Love is the foundation. Love is the way. All we do is out of the love of Christ. It isn’t to gain acceptance or to simply please others. We live love out loud to honor God. We live love out loud to make Jesus known, not ourselves.
[A New Home]
2 Peter 3:13 “But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.”
This world is not our home. We are aliens and strangers just passing by. We are citizens of heaven, waiting eagerly for the time when God comes and makes all things new. He has made a new covenant with his people. He has given us a new identity. He has called us to live in a new way. He has given us a new commandment to live by. To those who overcome are given a new home.
One day, Jesus will come and wipe the tears from our eyes. One day, Jesus will come and hold us closer than ever. One day, Jesus will come and tell us ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ One day, we will see Jesus.
One day, we will be given new bodies. One day, we will be given new names. One day we will be with Jesus forever. To him be the glory and honor forever. We worship as we wait. We wait as God continues to download the very life of His Jesus into us.
“And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”